Upon doing my usual bit of looking into each list film before I get into it on Local Hero, one of the new additions to the list, I was a little miffed that I’d be watching what seemed to be yet another “British humor/sensibilities” film; I was under the impression that I’d pretty much cleared those out already, but oh well. Local Hero isn’t a straight out comedy, and nor is it a straight out drama; it happily walks the fine line between the two, and I’d really not have it any other way. Too many films seem to feel the need to commit to one field of film style, so it was nice to see a film that’s content to remain in the middle ground, and get it as right as this one does. As much trepidation as I had going into this, I was surprised to realize how much I enjoyed it coming out.
MacIntyre is a representative of the Knox Oil and Gas company, based out of Houston, who is sent to a small Scottish town (mostly because his last name sounds Scottish) to try and negotiate a deal for the company to purchase the entire location to build a new oil refinery. Along the way, he picks up Danny Oldsen, a Knox rep based in Scotland, and the two of them spend a while in the town, while Mac attempts to find what makes the town so special, and Danny reconnects with a marine biologist the pair met at one of Knox’s oceanic facilities who happens to be in the area. Like several other films from the list I’ve seen, this narrows its focus on a single characteristic, and makes the film as a whole embody it; in this case, the film offers a supreme sense of quirkiness. All the comedy is off-beat, incidental stuff; the irony of the eagerness of the townspeople to sell versus Mac’s growing reservations about offing such a lovely little town, the motorcyclist who constantly rides around town and always narrowly misses Mac and Danny as they walk by, the pseudo-psychologist who torments Mac’s executive Mr. Happer with threatening therapy, and plenty of other scene-by-scene bits and pieces of humor, in that special way that only the British seem to be able to do. The film turns more toward the serious side as it reaches its conclusion, but never fully loses this sense of whimsy or comfort, and it always feels like a warm blanket, or a hearty welcome upon a return to a childhood hometown.
This was quite the breath of fresh air; I really wasn’t expecting what this had to offer. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who won’t take to this kind of film all that well, and that, I can acknowledge; this really isn’t a film for everyone. If you’re not in the demographic the film is aiming for, you will likely want to see something else, but hey, who knows; maybe you’ll be like me and find a new favorite here. It’s certainly one to give a shot, at the very least; it’s demure, but that is mostly why it’s so charming, and it worked for me on a level I didn’t think it would. I don’t know if really deserves its addition to the list, but if it hadn’t been added, I’d never have seen it, so I’m pretty thankful regardless.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10