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United Kingdom 1983
Directed by
Bill Forsyth
107 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Local Hero

A corporate negotiator (Peter Riegert) is sent by a Texan oil billionaire, Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster), to buy a tiny Scottish fishing village to be converted into a giant processing plant.

What could have been a standard tub-thumping anti-corporate drama is in writer-drector Forsyth’s hands a delightfully understated off-beat comedy that makes all its points without once ever getting out the soap-box or squeezing the lachrymal glands. One of the strengths of Forsyth’s script is indeed the way in which firstly, it remains obliquely faced towards the big issues, choosing instead to build a mosaic of incidentals and secondly, makes the townsfolk only too keen to partake in their own demise in exchange for pots of money. The other major strength is the characters.

Once again, Forsyth does not give us a typical bunch of heart-warming eccentrics (Mr Happer's eccentricity is wonderfully unique) but rather casts a refreshingly different eye on the everyday, bringing the quirky to the fore without turning it into caricatural schtick. Across the board the performances are all first class. Forsyth who also directed the likeable Gregory’s Girl (1981) here gets his feel for the human comedy exactly right with Mark Knopfler's score provides a nice sub-stratum to the visuals.

The result is probably too low-key to reach a mass audience but for anyone who relishes British understatement Local Hero is a gem.

DVD Extras: Theatrical Trailer

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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