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Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2004)

Robert Carlyle , Rhys Ifans , Shane Meadows  |  R |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans, Kathy Burke, Vanessa Feltz, Ricky Tomlinson
  • Directors: Shane Meadows
  • Writers: Shane Meadows, Paul Fraser
  • Producers: Andrea Calderwood, Claire Hunt, Hanno Huth, James Wilson, Louise Knight
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: February 10, 2004
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00011V8J0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,755 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Once Upon a Time in the Midlands" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands is credited as the closing part in a loosely connected trilogy by director Shane Meadows. A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) and Twenty Four Seven (1997) preceded it, and ultimately the viewer will be hard-pressed to discern more than the British Midlands locale linking them together. That and the generally grim tone. Here we have what boils down to a tale of a girl (Shirley Henderson) who can't decide between two guys (her ex, Robert Carlyle, or her current boyfriend, Rhys Ifans). Wrapped up in some easy comedy and framed in the occasional nod to the spaghetti Western genre, the movie initially has plenty in its favor. Unfortunately, the intrusion of a B-plot involving some Scottish thugs overpowers the more pleasant family portrait. As a result, the stellar performances by Kathy Burke and Ricky Tomlinson get lost in the drama of the love triangle. After swinging back and forth indecisively, Shirley's conclusion to the tale doesn't have the emotional punch that it should have. This third Midlands tale may be the most accessible in terms of familiar characters and aspects of contemporary British life, but what it isn't is the kind of escapist movie experience suggested by its title. --Paul Tonks

Product Description

Using the operatic style associated with Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, this offbeat comedy stars Robert Carlyle as a small-time hood who watches ex-wife Shirley Henderson turn down a marriage proposal by live-in boyfriend Rhys Ifans on a tabloid TV show. Believing this is a chance to reconnect with his ex and see his 12-year-old daughter again, Carlyle leaves Glasgow for the English Midlands and a showdown with Ifans. With Finn Atkins, Kathy Burke. 104 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital Surround; Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese. NOTE: This Title Is Out Of Print; Limit One Per Customer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Jimmy Comes Back to His Ex-Wife... Amusing UK Drama September 23, 2004
Though the title sounds like a Sergio Leone film, or any Italian made Westerns, 'Once Upon a Time in Midlands' is a low-key British comedy-drama starring Robert Carlyle ('Full Monty'), Kathy Burke (Nil By Mouth'), Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle in 'Harry Potter'), and Rhys Ifans ('Notting Hill'). Opinions divide among the viewers, especially the critics who find similar themes in recent UK films -- like gangsters -- but the similarity is only on the surface.

Robert Carlyle is a Scotsman Jimmy, who happens to have see his ex-wife Shirley (Shirley Henderson) on TV show (imagine British Jerry Springer show). There, another guy, Welshman Dek (surprisingly normal Ifans) asks Shirley to marry him, holding a bundle of flowers. Contrary to his expectations, he is rejected. Now that's a sign for Jimmy to reclaim the once lost love.

From Glasgow (where he is involved in a petty crime such as robbing clowns), Jimmy returns Shirley's home in the Midlands (part located in north of London). Can he get back her love? Or her daughter who considers Dek is her father? And what will those three criminals do, who follow Jimmy from Scotland to this town? Can Dek hold his own, and keep Shirley's love to the end?

It is not hard to tell the outcomes, and you know the answer. Kathy Burke plays the nagging middle-aged woman who loves bingo games, uses very bad languages, but still has a heart of gold. Carlyle is also the same kind of guy you saw in 'Trainspotting' -- when he is in good mood, he could be a nice guy, but potentially he could raise hell, and we know it. I don't say they are typecast; but some might think so.

But at the heart of the film there is a generous, feel-good mood, which manage to raise the film one notch up above the average British films.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars average love story March 15, 2005
By EriKa
Robert Carlyle is brilliant in this kind of role-violent, shiftless, abusive guy who somehow lulls those closest to him into a certain blindness and obeisance to his brutality. He reappears on the scene in his ex-girlfriend's life when he sees quiet, mild-mannered Dek (Rhys Ifans) proposing to Shirley on a tv talk show. When she refuses the proposal, Jimmy (Carlyle) sees it as his grand opportunity to claim the one who got away. Shirley is portrayed by Shirley Henderson, who seems to pop up in small, unusual but often pivotal roles (24 Hour Party People, for example). When Jimmy resurfaces, Dek cowers, backs down, not fighting for the woman he loves, much to the disappointment of Shirley's precocious child, who considers Dek her father.

Eventually Dek finds his nerve and sends Jimmy packing, but only once he hits rock bottom and decided to take what's rightfully his-not by resorting to stupidity but by using his love, sensitivity and stability.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A major disappointment October 15, 2006
From the days when it was a legal requirement to cast either Robert Carlyle or Rhys Ifans if you wanted to get lottery funding for a British film, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands is another in Shane Meadows' line of deeply disappointing films before he finally came into his own with Dead Man's Shoes. To be fair, the project went through major development Hell, and the results are all too obvious in the sketchy construction and characterization. Carlyle's bad boy spurred into winning back his wife Shirley Henderson (sporting the most irritating little girly voice in history) from nice guy Ifans after seeing her on a daytime TV show is never really developed or even properly introduced, and the plot, such as it is, doesn't get going until the movie is half over. The tone is awkward, with Carlyle opting for convincingly unpleasant naturalism while Ifans lapses too often into sitcom acting, leaving the acting honors to go to Kathie Burke. There are a couple of excellent moments at a park bandstand and a final confrontation that hint at a better film that could have been, but it's all too easy to share Meadows' own disappointment with the film as a whole.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A British Point Of View February 15, 2004
This is a mixed film, containing love, humour and hate. All delecatly combined to produce something like this. Although some parts you do kind of loose interest, but brings you back in with the hard true love that one man has for his lady, and what he will do in order to get it. This is a good film, defenatly one I would recommend.
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1.0 out of 5 stars bag of s***e February 1, 2014
Rubbish film :(

I`d like to know how he keeps getting his Ford Seirra fixed up
It`s beyond all reasonable expense
Maybe he knows an `instant` repair bodyshop or sommat
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth buying December 27, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Too much use of the f-word and I'm not usually offended by this. I didn't care for it; I threw the DVD out.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment January 1, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
While the story has merit, the endless scenes of stupidity were tiresome. Who wants to watch morons constantly fighting, smashing things and people, living in filthy homes? Acting was good, but the show was a big disappointment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Once Upon A Time In the Midlands
This is a very good story I am glad I got to see. It is different from some and I liked it. I have seen it more than once and I enjoy it. thank you.
Published 22 months ago by Marie Anne Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie & Seller Review
I like the actors in the film and the romantic comedy/ drama theme. I had seen this film previous, which is the reason why I purchased it-I knew I liked the movie. Read more
Published on May 27, 2011 by SG
3.0 out of 5 stars in the middle
the movie was good. it was right in the middle of shane meadows movies for me; not the best and not the worst. my husband liked it better then i did. Read more
Published on June 5, 2010 by Prole
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie review
This was a great performance for Robert Carlyle. The typical bad boy wants things to go bact the way they were only they can't. Read more
Published on February 28, 2010 by Edwina B. Karch
4.0 out of 5 stars Great acting enhances familiar tale
Yes, the accents ARE thick, and there are no English subtitles. (Dreadful oversight.) You can manage, but there were a few chunks of dialogue where I did not know what was... Read more
Published on September 14, 2009 by J. C Clark
3.0 out of 5 stars Middle-of-the-road UK love triangle
Superb acting is squandered in a lackluster and uninspiring hybred of comedy, romance, and thriller that tries too hard on all fronts and falls flat.
Published on April 16, 2005 by M. Schreuder
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like offbeat this is the ticket.
This is an offbeat love story. If you like offbeat foreign films you'll love this movie. At times understanding what people were saying was difficult. Read more
Published on March 23, 2004 by Ronald J. Argabright
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