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The Good Heart

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Brian Cox stars as Jacques, the curmudgeonly owner of a gritty New York dive bar that serves
as home to a motley assortment of professional drinkers. Jacques is determinedly drinking and
smoking himself to death when he meets Lucas (Paul Dano), a homeless young man who has
already given up on life. Determined to keep his legacy alive, Jacques deems Lucas is a fitting heir
and takes him under his wing, schooling him in the male-centric laws of his alcoholic clubhouse: no
new customers, no fraternizing with customers, and absolutely no women. Lucas is a quick study,
but their friendship is put to the test when the distraught and beautiful April (Isild Le Besco) shows
up at the bar seeking shelter, and Lucas insists they help her out.

Amazon.com

Few actors project a subterranean rage like Brian Cox (recognizable from movies as varied as Adaptation, Manhunter, and X-Men 2). The Good Heart is a superb showcase for this underrated actor: as Jacques, the owner of a cloistered bar in New York City, Cox unleashes arias of cantankerous bile on both his customers and Lucas (Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood), the young homeless man that Jacques has chosen as his protégé. Lucas's sweet nature both touches and infuriates Jacques, but their relationship slowly builds in trust--until, like so many male connections, it's threatened by a woman (French actress Isild Le Besco). Though the plot of The Good Heart doesn't hold any surprises (and the ending is a little forced), the textures of this movie are incredible. Jacques's dank, smoke-stained bar--filled with a collection of dank, smoke-stained regulars--is filmed in moldering yet lush greens and blues, as if the bar (and the world) were deep underwater. Cox and Dano worked together before in the excellent L.I.E.; their friendship, shot through with father-son yearnings, is wonderfully affecting. Though Dano and Le Besco are both excellent, Cox seizes his role and turns it into the movie's driving force. It's an outstanding performance, not to be missed. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Dano, Brian Cox
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Magnolia
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003L20IN8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,183 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Good Heart" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barbara L. Elzohairy on March 10, 2011
Format: DVD
Empty hearts, lonely hearts, angry hearts all come together in a dank, seedy bar located in the dark canyon of lower new york city. Not a place to find love, but a place to be together for the exclusive club of black, blue collar, and superior intellectuals, a motley and fascinating crew. But it's owner, in spite of all the raw rage is both enterprising and able to love. Not knowing anything about this film before viewing it, I found myself riveted by the truth of what these actors portray, the human heart cloaked in darkness, seeking and not seeking the light, but finding it anyway. At last an American film of substance and gritty grace. I loved it.
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Format: DVD
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.
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A beautiful human interest story. It takes all kinds to make this world what it is. And we are ALL from different walks of life. I thought this movie was done so well, in all aspects. Thank you for such a gift, to the writers, producers, actors, and production company. We need more movies like this today, and less of the violent action packed stupidity that hits the screen too often. I was never bored, and I just wanted more.
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A set in his ways bar owner takes a young man to train as hes replacement. Instead the young man changes him. The word "heart" has a double meaning.. I love the movie. The language was a little offensive
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My watching of this film was precipitated by a number of realizations. One, I had rewatched L.I.E., another indie film starring the same actors 8 years earlier (Dano's debut) and was curious to see how the two worked together under different circumstances. Two, I had read another review here by NyiNya which described the film as bleak but fun and mentioned it was a Danish/Icelandic production. This intrigued me, as I am a fan of that somber-hearted Scandinavian outlook found in dramas such as the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.

In addition, my discovery that the cherubic newbie from L.I.E. is now a fairly established "character" actor (Dano had important, but certainly not vanity-oriented parts in 12 Years A Slave & Prisoner, getting beat up in both films), along with my own recent explorations in amateur acting (taking a series of supposed method classes where the instructor seemed to emphasize competing with one's fellow performers to draw audience attention), made me realize how absurd and arbitrary it is that we focus our regard on only actors who fit as examples of "alphas" within our human hierarchy. I had read an interview with Dano where he implies as much, expressing the sentiment that in order to be as truly authentic to the role as possible, one cannot be using the part to wage this campaign for love/admiration/validation. So creatively and personally for me, this has been a revelation as a viewer and an artist. It's made me remember why my mother always dragged me to arthouse fair to watch foreign and indie films. It's made me realize the importance of consuming more than what is fed mainstream. So that was my mindset coming into this little film.

The director writer/director Dagur Kari also is a fan of L.I.E.
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This is one of those unforgettable little indy films. Funny, touching, bleak -- plus ducks. Well, one duck anyway. Estragon. If you do not watch this film, you are missing something special.

It takes place mostly in a seedy NY bar. Jacques, played by the wonderful Brian Cox, is a misanthrope and a philosopher. To say he is eccentric is to understate the case considerably. He is not one of your cliched lovable old curmudgeons; his antisocial behavior borders on sociopathy. Paul Dano is a young homeless man who is too innocent for the casual cruelties of the streets. Fate brings them together.

Cox, who looks like a bulldog on a bad hair day, brings an incredible depth to the role of Jacques. An intellectual who lives in squalor, he ekes out a living in his bar...which serves only those few people he deigns to admit. Strangers are turned away. The land the bar is sitting on, a prime piece of downtown NYC real estate, is worth countless millions, but when real estate developers try to buy the place, Jacques turns them down...out of spite and a sort of noble commitment to the past. The magic of Cox's stony and unforgiving performance is his ability to add nuance without selling out. Jacques is never lovable, but he is fascinating and we get brief, tantalizing glimpses into his soul...just a whisper here, and peek there. An unforgettable piece of acting craft.

The film is bleak, but it's also fun. The scenes where Jacque debates Buddhism with the Chinese restaurant owner, explains the hidden meaning of broccoli to his protege, or gives him a lesson in brewing espresso are pure gold. Cox is, quite simply,a genius. Even so, it's Dano, who almost walks away with the film. His face is so open, so guileless, his eyes so wide, he just breaks your heart.
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