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Heartless

Year: 2009
Production Co: May 13
Director: Philip Ridley
Writer: Philip Ridley
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Clémence Posey, Timothy Spall

This one was a bit like From Dusk Till Dawn, turning on a dime and morphing into a completely different movie. It also helped that it was a bit under the radar, because I came to it completely cold.

With its grimy East End London setting and trappings of poverty, I thought the character of Jamie (Sturgess) was going to be a borderline genius or great unrecognised artist with a mental disorder (or some other such stalwart from movies about the disenfranchised) thanks to the heart shaped birthmark on his face he's always had an ambivalent relationship with.

There's a strong element of gang violence as a mysterious and murderous clan of youths in hooded jackets are on the rampage, carrying out nasty rituals and killing people by throwing Molotov cocktails at them.

Jamie sees them at it one day and is horrified when one of them turns to face him and reveals a reptilian face and a mouth full of sharp teeth. I thought he was finally cracking up from his lot in life.

But no, as we later find out in an attention-grabbing turn of events, the creatures are real. What's more, they're demons roaming the streets of London and Satan has sent them to ensure enough chaos and mayhem remains on Earth to maintain his presence. When Jamie is led by an enigmatic young girl who turns out to be a sort of angel from Hell, he gets to meet who I can only assume is Satan but who calls himself Papa B.

Papa B offers Jamie the chance of a lifetime – he'll remove all the blotches and discolourations from Jamie's body if he carries out his small slice of chaos when called upon, something innocuous that might not even come up for years.

Jamie agrees and his life turns around when he meets and falls for pretty courier Tia (Posey), but soon learns you should never make deals with the Devil. A bureaucrat (Marsan) comes to visit dispiritingly quickly in the one humourous scene of the film, telling Jamie his calling has come and that his task is far from innocuous – he has to kill someone within only hours.

The rest of the film is a stylised thriller and by the time it ends it's become a completely different beast from the one you sat down to watch. Interesting, well shot, and with only a minimum of plot stumbles.

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