Saturday, May 16, 2009

Once upon a Time in the Midlands

Once upon a Time in the Midlands brings together Robert Carlyle and Shirley Henderson from the Hamish MacBeth TV series in a quirky modern love story set in England (although Carlyle and Henderson maintain their Scots personas). When Jimmy (Carlyle) sees his ex-wife Shirley (Henderson) being proposed to on a national agony-TV show, he begins to feel that perhaps he has made one too many mistakes in his life. Leaving Glasgow and his criminal associates with a wad of ill-gotten gains, he heads for the Midlands to try to win her back and re-establish a relationship with his daughter. Complicating matters, Shirley's best friend Carol is Jimmy's sister. Dek (Rhys Ifans), the new boyfriend, is a solidly lower-middle-class type who owns his own auto-repair shop (The Clutch Hutch), and isn't sure he can compete with the charming though irresponsible Jimmy. All's well that ends well in this slightly odd romantic comedy.

My favorite character in this movie was Charlie, Carol's partner, played by Ricky Tomlinson. He's a very British guy who's in love with all things American, from his left-hand-drive American car to his huge collection of country and western music. In midlife, he has become a country singer himself, and Tomlinson wrote and performs a couple of songs in the film, quite creditably. He adds an extra dimension to the movie.

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