Junkhearts (R15)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner6/11/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Junkhearts has a strong sense of location and solid performances from Eddie Marsan and newcomer Candese Reid, but it's also relentlessly bleak and let down by a frustratingly predictable ending that doesn't quite ring true.

What's it all about?
Directed by Tinge Krishnan, Junkhearts is set in East London and stars Eddie Marsan as Frank, a lonely alcoholic who's haunted by his past as a soldier in Ulster and spends his days wandering about in a depressed haze. When he meets gobby homeless teenager Lynette (newcomer Candese Reid), Frank seems to spark to life, and he attempts to help her by offering a place to stay in his flat and teaching her self-defence.

However, despite her seeming affection for Frank, Lynette moves her drug-dealing boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge) into his flat and Frank's life quickly takes a turn for the worse. Meanwhile, businesswoman Christine (Romola Garai) neglects her young child in order to conduct a promiscuous, bar-hopping lifestyle but things come to a head when she discovers that her own mother has had a stroke.

The Good
Marsan and Reid both deliver strong performances and generate a touching chemistry in the first half of the film, particularly in the sequence where Frank attempts to teach Lynette self-defence. In addition, Krishnan directs with a strong sense of place and makes impressive use of some authentic East London locations.

The Bad
The main problem is that the story seems both inconsistent and directionless – for example, the afore-mentioned self-defence scene could almost belong to another film, since the idea never reappears and neither Frank nor Lynette behave the same way in subsequent scenes. In addition, it's extremely difficult to engage with Frank as a character, because he's so passive and introverted (and the make-up department haven't helped matters by giving him a hideous skin condition), while you also lose all sympathy for Lynette as soon as her connection to Danny is revealed.

On top of that, Garai's character's storyline is given so little screen time that there's only one possible direction it could be heading in, so the ending – while clearly meant to come as a surprise – is frustratingly predictable and also denies the audience a potentially more emotionally rewarding outcome.

Worth seeing?
Despite strong performances from Eddie Marsan and newcomer Candese Reid, JUnkhearts is ultimately a depressing and dramatically frustrating drama that never quite comes together and fails to engage on an emotional level.

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Content updated: 21/11/2019 23:34

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