The Good Heart
Writer/director Dagur Kari's displaced tale of a grumpy misogynist who comes to the aid of an attempted suicide victim is an undernourished drama held together only on the strength of its charismatic leading actors Brian Cox and Paul Dano. Cox's character Jacques owns and operates an old school downtown Manhattan dive bar when a hospital visit for chronic heart problems introduces him to fellow patient Lucas (Paul Dano). Lucas's poverty induced wrist-slitting makes him a surprisingly sympathetic person for Jacques to extend a rare helpful hand. Jacques invites Lucas to take shelter in an extra room above the bar where he lives when he isn't tending to his same five or six misfit regulars that inexplicably pay the bar's rent. In return, Lucas is expected to learn Jacques's strict code of conduct for running the bar. Intended as a commentary on a passing generation of marginal American male identity "The Good Heart" fails to flesh out its barely sketched secondary characters, like the rudderless French girl who wanders into the bar only to become Lucas's wife. As the irascible and insult-spewing Jacques, Brian Cox holds the audience in a love/hate relationship as we watch his influence on the naive Lucas take hold. "The Good Heart" isn't a good movie, but it does have two good performances.
Rated R. 95 mins. (C-) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)
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