Review by Jack Foley
EDDIE Marsan gives a typically spirited performance in Faintheart, a tale of unlikely heroes set within the world of battle re-enactments that’s sadly let down by a weak screenplay that just appears content to go through the motions for this kind of thing.
Sales assistant Richard (Marsan) finds his life at a crossroads when his beloved wife Cath (Jessica Hynes) turfs him out of home and his son begins to think less of him as he attempts to cope with school bullying. What’s more, Cath begins seeing his son’s PE teacher (Paul Nicholls).
Attempting to balance real world responsibilities with his passion for Viking War re-enactments, Richard is forced to choose between family and his lifelong best friend and Trekkie Julian (Ewan Bremner), who also faces a big decision concerning his love life and whether to finally leave home.
Faintheart is the result of MyMovieMashUp, a groundbreaking initiative by MySpace, Vertigo Films and Film4 that sought to harness the collective creativity of the world’s largest online community. It gave web users the chance to play an integral part in every stage of the making of the film, from directing the film, to joining the cast and submitting music for the soundtrack.
Hence, Vito Rocco makes his feature debut as director, as well as co-penning the screenplay, and must shoulder a lion’s share of the blame. The film lazily resorts to every genre cliché in the book and has a made-for-TV feel, rather than exhibiting any cinematic grandeur.
Marsan’s Richard, meanwhile, is a born loser who makes fundamentally obvious mistakes throughout the film, so much so that his exploits become tiring. Were it not for the actor’s honest portrayal, he may have been extremely difficult to root for.
The battle re-enactments, too, lack much zip or imagination and pale by comparison to those in the far more enjoyable Hollywood comedy, Role Models.
In the end, the overall impression is one of sadness and regret… mostly for the likes of Marsan, Hynes and Bremner, whose efforts deserve far better than this.
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: February 2, 2009