Different Hearts Dagur Kári’s The Good Heart examined
The Good Heart is Dagur Kári’s third feature film after Dark Horse
(Voksne Mennesker, 2005) and Noi The Albino (Nói Albínói, 2003). In his
films, the story usually revolves around a few main characters, their
way of connecting to other people and finding people who understand
them. A good example is Noi, where a very particular boy in a small
fishing village creates a world of his own as a reaction to how a few
people understand him or give him a chance to be himself.
Dagur Kári developed this theme further in Dark Horse, which was
made with Danish actors and shot in Danish. Now with his new film, an
English-language one featuring actors who have made a career in the US,
he takes a new approach to this theme.
The two main characters are men who each in their own way have come
to an existential end station. They are as different as could be: Lucas,
the young homeless boy, and Jacques, the old bad tempered bar owner.
They meet at the hospital after Lucas tries to commit suicide and
Jacques is recovering from his fifth heart attack. After Lucas leaves
the hospital, Jacques seeks him out and takes him under his wing. He
then starts to teach him how to run his bar with his philosophy of life.
One might say that the bar becomes the two main characters’ entire
existence, and those that enter the bar are the few people who enter
their lives. Jacques only allows customers he knows and trusts into the
bar. His heart has been hurt and the bar is a place where he can take
total control of his environment and where he feels safe. The biggest
threat to him is when the girl April enters the bar. Lucas, being kind
and good hearted, can’t deny her when she asks for help and has no other
place to go.
That is a good example of the main characters’ huge contrast. Lucas
is young and early on his path in life and wants to help others. Jacques
is old and close to the end of his path and avoids helping others and
trusts no one. This is underlined when Jacques says to Lucas that he is
not here to save people, but to destroy them. One could also say that,
in a way, that is how the world works.
In The Good Heart, the characters’ world takes place in small
spaces, a confined universe. This gives them a feeling of comfort and
security, like with Nói in his cellar, which also keeps him safe in the
tragic events at the end of the film. Although Dagur Kári´s three films
have similarities they are quite different from each other and therefore
cannot be considered as a trilogy but more of a process and development
of a young and interesting film director. The Good Heart is definitely
recommended for those who want to experience the fruits of the
constantly growing Icelandic film scene.