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Movie Review

The Good Heart also known as “Dobre serce”

MPAA Rating: R for language and a disturbing image.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

Very Offensive
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1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 30, 2010 (limited—5+ theaters)
DVD: August 10, 2010
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Magnolia Films

Drunkenness in the Bible


DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer


SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

Human pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer


POVERTY—What does the Bible say about the poor? Answer

Poor in the Bible

Sharing Christ
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Featuring: Paul Dano (Lucas), Brian Cox (Jacques), Stephanie Szostak (Sarah), Damian Young (Roddie), more »
Director: Dagur Kári
Producer: Ex Nihilo (Paris, France), Forensic Films, Nimbus Film Productions (Hvidovre, Denmark), Nordisk Film ShortCut, Palomar Pictures, Wild Bunch, more »
Distributor: Magnolia Films

“Everyone needs a refuge from the world.”

“The Good Heart” is a French independent film which originally debuted at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Written and directed by Dagur K’ari, it is a well-crafted film and visually appealing for its low budget cost of just 3.8 million dollars. Running a limited engagement in theaters in April of 2010, it now has its place as a DVD rental in your local video store.

Deemed predictable by most reviewers and film critics, as sappy and shamelessly sentimental by others, “The Good Heart” does have some redeeming qualities in the story line. It is a story of strong friendship and of finding love where one would least expect it. But, for all its realistic, gritty film quality and a script full of good intentions, the actual characters and the way they live and spout foul language all through this quirky tale, will keep most, if not all, Christian movie goers far away.

Its tagline: “Everyone needs a refuge from the world,” seems like a splendid way to start a story about Jacques (Brian Cox), a loner bartender with a string of heart attacks that are slowly but surely letting him know that his time on Earth is about to end. Jacques meets up with a young man, Lucas (Paul Dano), who is living on the streets, has turned suicidal, but is a kind-hearted guy who really just needs a break, while sharing the same hospital room. Though as different as night and day in age and their views of the world, through their matched brush with death, these two men make an emotional connection.

Jacques decides that Lucas is the perfect guy to take over his meager bartending business, and since he has no family of his own, he takes him home and under his tutelage; Jacques is doggedly sure he can teach young Lucas the ropes. He knows Lucas needs a reason to live, and Jasques is determined to not just give him the life he has always lived, but he all but shoves it down sensitive Lucas’ throat.

Lucas does learn well, and although Jacques is gruff and borderline cruel, as well as extremely insensitive, Lucas learns to care for him as a son would a gruff old Father. Lucas is the sort that sees the best in all people, and, in the department where Jacques is hard-hearted, Lucas shows a soft-heart of gold. In the end, each man teaches the other valuable life lessons they never intended or dreamed of when their relationship first began.

In walks April (Isild Le Besco) one cold and rainy night, lost and alone with no where to go, and as soon as Lucas takes her in, the two men are at odds. Jacques is sure all women are only out to take a man for all he’s got, and Lucas is set on helping her out, simply because she’s a human being in need. The men butt heads over the arrangement, and their friendship is strained to the limit. Yet, despite it all, Lucas winds up marrying the sweet-spirited April, and Jacques starts to soften, even if just a little. Each man is forced by these circumstances to view life and what is important within it from a new standpoint.

Spoiler follows***
The story takes a devastating turn at the end, as Jacques is placed on the waiting list for a heart transplant, and Lucas gives Jacques the ultimate gift. For Jacques to embark on a new life far away from the dismal bar on the murky back streets of New York, Lucas must give up “The Good Heart.”
***End spoiler***

First, I must strongly warn, as redemptive and simple as the story line may seem, as I have described it, “The Good Heart” is laden with extreme foul language. Over 25 hits on the F-word, 10 hits on bi**h, 2 whore, over 5 utterances of the Lord’s name in a profane way, along with generous sprinkles of sh*t, hell, God dam* it, and son of a bi**h. There are two graphic jokes involving men’s and women’s body parts and a scene where Jacques and Lucas make humorous jokes about passing wind while eating broccoli.

There is one haunting bloody image near the end, of a character who gets run over by a car and is left bleeding in the street, which is very realistic. Although there is no nudity or sex scenes, the graphic nature of the language, along with the fact all or nearly all of the characters are shown drinking, smoking and getting or being drunk, makes this film one a Christian family will not want to spend their money to rent, or at least the adult Christian should be warned ahead of time to take a long time considering if this is the type of film you would be interested in viewing.

It is true that we all need refuge, as well as redemption, but the only one who can give it is Jesus. And although close friendships, even those as close as to be like father and son, are very satisfying, there are no Earthly bonds that can compare to that which we enjoy by experiencing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. No hope is found in a bottle of booze, and no peace can be found to be complete other than that claimed by a solid belief in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ work on the cross is where we all shall find true redemption.

If only someone had come to Lucas and offered him the blessing of entering into a relationship with Jesus, he would not have been so lonesome and depressed that he tried to commit suicide in the first place. If someone had taken Jacques aside and offered a Bible verse and an invitation to sit and listen to the words of God, chances are he would never have turned out to be the uncaring, callus man dying of a his fifth heart attack we see in the beginning of this film.

I know, then we wouldn’t have this story or script, but in real life, there are many people much like the characters depicted in this film, who are lost, depressed and need to be introduced to our Savior. People need clothes, health care, food and housing, this is a truth. That is a wonderful refuge indeed. But unless we add the Jesus factor in their recovery, they still remain as lost as they were the day they got that Earthly assistance.

Let us all remember that, we have been commanded to help the poor and the widow. Let us commit to visit the sick and the incarcerated, to cloth the naked and to love thy neighbor. For Jesus said, when we do that for one of these, we do it for Him.

Lucas told Jacques after Jacques had gone on a tirade about not getting close to strangers and not befriending people, because you could never trust them, this one simple thing:

“We have everything and [she] has nothing [so we should give], it’s as simple as that.”

It really is that simple. We who know Jesus and His love, His refuge, really do have everything. And it is truly a simple thing to share it. Perhaps just by sharing your time, a caring ear to listen to troubles, a basket of food, and a short few minutes to tell them about the plan of salvation, we can set a life on the right path, one towards the Cross.

There are many homeless souls in our world. Many desperate folks out there from all walks of life, be they rich or poor. People who drown their troubles in a bottle, or cut themselves off from meaningful relationships, simply because they are scared and have no where to turn, no refuge, no hope.

Consider giving them the good heart, the refuge, that of hope and joy. Give them what the characters in this story really needed all along. Give them your everything. Give them Jesus.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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Movie Critics
…arthouse hokum, a grungy look at down-and-outers as corny as anything mainstream Hollywood has ever concocted. …a picture too simplistic and sentimental for art seekers and too rough for general auds…
—Todd McCarthy, Variety
…Well-intended redemption drama features great performances by leads Brian Cox and Paul Dano… the ending a bit unsatisfying in its obvious simplemindedness… [3/5]
—Peter Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine
…Tiresome characters… The movie begins to wear out its welcome even before a conclusion of breathtaking corniness. …[2/4]
—Kyle Smith, New York Post
…A film that wears its heart and its predictability on its sleeve. … “The Good Heart” is a character study but you won’t like these characters very much. They are creatures of fiction—and shamelessly sentimental fiction at that. …
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter