The Good Heart - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Good Heart Reviews

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September 9, 2014
Icelandic filmmaker Dagur Kári's drama is a solid, well made and written drama about an odd kinship between an old bartender Jacques (Brian Cox) and a wandering homeless young man Lucas (Paul Dano). The setting is New York, the starting point a failed suicide attempt by Lucas that brings the two characters together.

"The Good Heart" is darkly humorous, but also serves as smart social commentary that slowly crawls beneath the skin of its characters. The narrative is brutal but compassionate towards the two men who are united in hopelessness. Jacques knows he's dying soon of a failing heart, adamant to make Lucas his successor. But the unfortunate boy seems to have too good a heart for business.

The film gets a bit too sentimental at times, but this can be largely excused as Kári's take on storytelling is clearly one of a modern Dickens fable. The cinematography reflects this with a seeing-beauty-among-the-rubble approach.

What makes the movie is the leading actors. Isild Le Besco has been given a bit too little to work with as a modern damsel in distress, but Paul Dano delivers again. Brian Cox truly shines as the deeply misanthropic and specifically misogynistic Jacques. Kári has written some marvelous dialog for the actors to build their characters with.
March 15, 2014
Pure Quirky Goodness! Highly underrated!
½ September 22, 2013
The Good Heart (Dagur Kári, 2009)

Dear...anyone who has ever attempted to make either a Lifetime or a Hallmark Original Movie: I would like you all to sit down in a theater somewhere (rent one, you can afford it) and watch Dagur Kári's 2009 movie The Good Heart. While you are doing so, don't have them dim the house lights, because you should be taking notes the entire damn time. This is how you make an inspirational, heartwarming, emotionally manipulative movie. This is everything you and your ilk have been trying to do for twenty years and, with the sole exception (in my experience) of one movie by a guy who actually started off directing direct-to-video softcore flicks, failed miserably to do every single time.

The last time Paul Dano and Brian Cox got together in front of a camera, the result was Michael Cuesta's phenomenal 2001 film L. I. E., which was phenomenal in no small part because of the chemistry between the two actors. Kári (Nói the Albino) reunited the two of them eight years later, after Ryan Gosling and Tom Waits dropped out of the project. It was a very good decision. Dano plays Lucas, a young homeless man with a penchant for failed suicide attempts. Cox is Jacques, a bar owner with a similar penchant, but for heart attacks. Synchronicity lands both of them in the hospital at the same time, and despite himself, Jacques takes a shine to the boy, taking him in and training him as a bartender. The two couldn't be more different, with Jacques' gruff cynicism playing against Lucas' wide-eyed wonder. Everything is going along swimmingly until a young, lost ex-stewardess named April (Girls Can't Swim's Isild Le Besco) shows up one rainy night. Lucas is instantly enchanted; Jacques is not a big fan of women in bars. Cue tension.

I'm not saying the movie doesn't have its problems. Yes, you can see that ending coming from a mile away, and yes, the romance subplot gets very short shrift a few times (one thinks that had Kári had the guts to go with a resolution a la Last Kind Words, it might have silenced a lot of the movie's critics). But much of the pleasure of watching this movie comes from that same Dano-Cox chemistry and how well it plays. Paul Dano always creeps me out just a little. He knows it, too, and he capitalizes on it at least once in every movie. Here it's the entire first half, which he plays almost robotically, save in a few key scenes that set up the second half of the movie (the sperm donation scene in hysterical). But then he blossoms into an actual human being, and you realize that what you've been seeing isn't a character, but an archetype. The same is true of Cox's character, and the two of them influencing one another are making them into actual human beings. It's a much better acting job than a lot of people have been giving it credit for, and it's all the better if you remember their relationship in L. I. E.. Everything else is secondary, though many of those secondary bits are a great deal of fun (the subplot with the duck, the long-standing rivalry between two of the bar's regulars, etc.) I saw homages to a number of different films here, and in many cases, I thought The Good Heart did its source material one better; the obvious parallels are with Barfly, with a bit of Coming Home thrown in, but there were bits that put me a great deal in mind of Inside Moves, All That Jazz, and maybe even a few shreds of Down by Law. It made a fun viewing experience just that much better. You probably missed this one when it was out in theaters (it grossed just under twenty thousand dollars theatrically in the USA); grab a copy of it now and remedy that. *** 1/2

(For the record, the one inspirational film that actually worked and was directed by someone who started off making DTV softcore: Yôjirô Takita's 2008 Oscar winner Okuribito.)
August 19, 2013
I am going to skip this one.
August 8, 2013
Loved this movie. The atmosphere was just perfect. Paul Dano and Brian Cox were excellent as were the colorful cast of characters that frequented the bar and also the hospital. It almost reminds me, in a way, of Barfly. Lots of quirky and funny moments and also some nice and emotional ones.
½ May 3, 2013
'brocolli', the incarnation of 'fart'. Need I say more?
April 6, 2013
Very slow, but hilarious. I will admit that I was not a fan of the ending, but that's what makes me love this film even more. Brian Cox and Paul Dano are great actors and they prove it once more. Don't know much about the French chick. Overall I liked it and recommend it.
½ March 24, 2013
This is the most cynical movie I have ever seen. Granted, it is rated R, but to show a hanged kitten is criminally cruel beyond artistic license. Was there a disclaimer "no animals were harmed making this film"? Or did they kill a cat just for production value.
It should be rated TI for totally insensitive. Netflix, what were you thinking?
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2013
If there's a reason I liked this film, it's because of Brian Cox and Paul Dano who, as always, deliver their absolute best. The problem lies in the fact that the script is unsure of itself and doesn't know what it wants to do. It has an identity crisis. And that's a problem because the story never builds to anything. It has different ideas it wants to get across but it never fully commits to one. It eventually does lead to Jacques changing his ways, but it's simply too late by that point to really make the story better. In a way you do care for the leads, as Brian Cox and Paul Dano are absolutely great together and I think the characters themselves are interesting and intriguing, especially Brian Cox who is excellent as the antagonistic Jacques. And Paul Dano is a good counter to that with his character's immense likability. That's all I can say really, the film is absolutely made by Brian Cox and Paul Dano and their excellent performances. It's such a shame the story is a step behind.
December 26, 2012
what happened to the duck?!
½ November 29, 2012
I like the "spark" part .....
November 1, 2012
I find it interesting that the audience likes this much better than the professional critics - it says a lot about how much the critics know about what captures the viewers attention, brain or heart. I loved this movie. Yes, it is flawed, but somehow the flaws just make it even more endearing. The only thing predictable is the ending - everything else is a masterclass in acting by two incredible actors.
September 17, 2012
i saw the trailer and i thought, "there is no real need for me to watch this movie, i've already seen the entire thing." i watched it anyway because i like the actors. surprisingly, the ending was not what i exactly what i expected.
it was semi-redemptive (expected), and the last 5 minutes left me feeling duped into spending time i could have used on pretty much anything else (unexpected).
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2012
I really could have done without the swinging kitten scene. Otherwise, I enjoyed seeing how the nasty old man warmed up to the homeless boy and took him under his wing. The twist at the end made me yell out loud.
½ September 15, 2012
A wonderful story on friendship and self-sacrifice. The photography in this old shabby Brooklyn bar is outstanding. It feels like in a painting, almost like Edward Hopper. The quiet Paul Dano is an enigma till the end. Tearful and bright.
½ August 19, 2012
After a chance meeting in the hospital, Jacques (Brian Cox), a middle aged bitter bar owner with a history of heart attacks decides to help the young homeless Lucas ( Paul Dano) by taking him under his wing and teaching him his unique take on bar tending the regulars. The film offers little in the way of surprise but amongst its predictability is two fine performances by Cox and Dano and some touching sentiment.
½ July 5, 2012
Entertaining characters but the story direction was a bit meandering and the ending had a tight little bow that wrapped things up but did not satisfy.
June 15, 2012
great script. Always a surprise awaits. A Good hearted picture.
April 5, 2012
"Well, for a billion dollars i'll give you a scenic tour of my anal canal." of the funniest movie ever! :-D
February 9, 2012
Atipica y cruda pelicula sobre la amistad y la bondad humana. Dos personas, que jamas hubieran podido coincidar, deciden forjar una inusual amistad para intentar borrar los fantasmas internos de cada uno. Genial Brian Cox en su papel de viejo cascarrabias y descomunal Paul Dano como indigente bienintencionado. Hermosa y cruel a la vez. Una unica pega por parte del personaje femenino, que en lugar de despertar simpatia despierta bastante grima...
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