Heartless (2009)

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Released 27-Oct-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Audio Commentary-Director : Phillip Ridley
Music Video-"The Other Me" Live (4.29)
Music Video-"Heartless" Live (4.57)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.32)
Gallery-Photo-Phillip Ridley's Photos of East London
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 109:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Philip Ridley

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jim Sturgess
Clémence Poésy
Noel Clarke
Luke Treadaway
Justin Salinger
Fraser Ayres
Ruth Sheen
David Florez
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music David Julyan

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     British "identity" Phillip Ridley is something of a Renaissance Man. Aside from his occasional film career (the script of The Krays, The Reflecting Skin) he has dabbled in children’s writing , plays, song writing and photography. Ridley came to controversial and somewhat popular attention with his play The Pitchfork Disney. Containing the themes that would dominate his later work, and cut through with morbid humour, it established him as a major new talent. In the play he was able to combine the humorous, albeit darkly so, with the genuine dread as a sort of post-apocalyptic pair of siblings are menaced by a young man and his carnival act, the masked Pitchfork Cavalier. His carnival act? Simply removing his mask and revealing a hideous face! His later play Ghost From A Perfect Place was controversial for its depiction of urban, albeit futuristic, female violence. Heartless is his first feature for 15 years.

     A hideous face is our first impression of Jamie (Jim Sturgess). Rest assured, violence is not far behind! Cursed with large birthmarks on his body, in particular a heart shaped red mark on his face, Jamie is an outcast who has not known ordinary love outside his family. His deceased father (Timothy Spall) gave him a love of photography and it is this craft that Jamie perfects both by helping out his photographer nephew and roaming around East London taking snaps of derelict buildings. On one such photo shoot he meets and is entranced by a beautiful woman Tia (Clemence Poesy - Fleur Delacouer from the Harry Potter movies). Of course, he realises she is too beautiful to even notice him.

     Jamie lives with his mum (Ruth Sheen) in a tough part of town where a band of youths have been creating trouble. Whilst shooting a derelict building Jamie notices something strange in the window. Developing the pictures he is shocked to see a demonic face peering out from the room. Roaming the streets at night Jamie sees a group of youths who reveal themselves to be demons. Stories fill the TV about a group of brutal youths setting innocents on fire. A new neighbour moves in next to Jamie (Noel Clarke) and the two become friends only for him to go missing in mysterious circumstances.

     When a tragedy strikes close to home Jamie is a man adrift. He receives a strange call to come to an abandoned building and meets the infernal Papa B (Joseph Mawle) who offers him a deal in the best Faustian tradition. Jamie is reluctant to accept until swayed by two things - the chance to be handsome with very little demanded in return; just whack up some graffiti now and then. Of course, Papa B is not to be trusted and Jamie’s already bleak world drifts into a spiral of violence and fear offset by the new love he has found in Tia.

     Ridley’s film, which he wrote and directed and composed some songs for, is a puzzler in the best sense of the word. A blend of genres, it is a sometimes touching drama, urban romance and a horror film rolled into a package which is never simple or easy to absorb. Perhaps the closest comparison is The Machinist which also set about dragging the audience into a world that is both compelling and terrifying and just might not be real. It is a head scratcher to be sure but will be enjoyed by anyone who likes their horror films more on the unnerving side. There are some gory moments but it is no slasher pic. Sturgess is a fine young actor and the rest of the cast play it straight and serious. Genre fans may find it a little slow and thoughtful and drama fans may find the creepiness a bit too much but it deserves a look.

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Transfer Quality


     Heartless was shot on the High Definition Panavision Genesis camera. It comes to DVD in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     In the director’s commentary track Philip Ridley talks at length about the colour and composition choices he made with his cinematographer and the production designer. The film is coloured and lit for various and specific purposes with reds and greens dominating. Every shot seems to have some colour effect whether through lighting or post production. It's not quite CSI:Miami but colour does play a major role in the film and the DVD colours are bright and clear. That is not to say that they are beautiful, often Ridley uses sickly greens and lurid reds to paint his East London. He also blows out the contrast in some scenes for effect.Ridley admits that at times he messed around with the lighting in Jamie’s flat just to keep it interesting as budgetary cutbacks meant they had to drop a number of locations and shoot most of it in the flat.

     The flesh tones are accurate. Apart from some digital noise there are no defects in the image quality.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which give a good account of on-screen action.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The sound for Heartless is English Dolby Digital 5.1 running at 448Kb/s. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The East London accents present no difficulties. There is a fair bit happening in the surrounds with demon noises and ambient sounds coming in from all sides. The sub-woofer gets a bit of a work out in key dramatic moments.

     The music for the film is by David Julyan, composer of the early Christopher Nolan films. It is a moody, classy score that provides both the shocks as well as some surprisingly moving moments. Philip Ridley also provides a couple of songs. There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Commentary Track: Writer/Director Philip Ridley

     Philip Ridley is an intelligent artist who has pretty good reasons for his decisions. His commentary track is comprehensive. Not only does he detail the challenges of making the film but he also goes into detail about the East London locations, which he has been photographing for years, and the process of casting and working with the actors. As writer he is also alive to all the thematic ideas in the script and as director he is able to explain all the artistic decisions. More so as a photographer he had clear reasons for the colours used throughout and the carefully composed cinematography. This is a complete commentary track which assists greatly in the understanding of the film. Those scratching their heads at the end of the film will want to go to key moments and pick up the director’s comments.

"Heartless" Live Video (4.57)

     A live performance from a screening of the film. The song is by Ridley and gives some insight into the character of Jamie.

"The Other Me" Live Video (4.29)

     Another song. Not a masterpiece but worth a listen.

Photo Galleries

     There are three galleries here, all of photos by Philip Ridley of East London. They are divided into a selection of Ridley’s hundreds of photos and those attributed or associated with Jamie and his father. An interesting selection.

Theatrical Trailer (1.32)

     A good trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The film has been released on DVD in Region 2. The versions are similar however the Region 2 adds a Making of featurette. Not having seen it I can't comment but the Region 2 would seem to be the better bet for fans.


     Heartless is something of an art/horror film. The effects might betray the low budget but the film is thought provoking if not entirely original in its use of the Faust idea. The DVD is pretty good quality both in sound and vision. The commentary track is the best extra, a real insight into the film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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