ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS

Content -2
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: August 29, 2003

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans,
Shirley Henderson, and Finn
Atkins

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Jerry
Langford ONCE UPON A TIME IN
THE MIDLANDS is a British
comedy farce about Jimmy
(played by Robert Carlyle), a
man who left his family for a
life of crime three years
earlier. After seeing his
ex-wife turn down a surprise
marriage proposal on a TV
reality show, Jimmy heads to
the Midlands to try to win her
back. This odd "dramedy" (a
story merging elements of
comedy and drama) is
thoroughly British and may not
connect entirely to its
American audience, but the
important emphasis on family,
blended or otherwise, will
ring true universally. Jimmy's
ex-wife, Shirley (delightfully
played by Shirley Henderson),
lives with her boyfriend Dek
(Rhys Ifans), who is reeling
from his national humiliation
of rejection. Once Jimmy sees
Shirley turn down Dek on
national television, he
concludes that he still has a
chance to reunite with his
abandoned family. Taking his
latest heist money to the
suburbs (and followed by his
former crime partners he
betrayed), he works his way
back into Shirley's emotions
and buys gifts for his distant
12-year-old daughter Marlene
(Finn Atkins). Will Shirley
change Jimmy's selfish heart?
Will she choose the
leather-clad roughness and
excitement Jimmy offers or
stick with her dull but
well-intentioned Dek? Director
Shane Meadows takes the
opportunity here to make a
loving tribute to the American
Western. There are many scenes
ripped straight from old
Westerns. Sure, a cordless
power drill may humorously
double as a gunfighter's
weapon, but Meadows' story
also is as tough and tender as
those simpler times. ONCE UPON
A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS
contains much coarse language,
several profanities and is
rough around the edges, but it
is a thoughtful comedy about
love, loyalty and family.
Actors Robert Carlyle and
Shirley Henderson are reunited
here from their earlier movie
together, TRAINSPOTTING, but,
thankfully, this story is not
that gritty. Jimmy's sister,
Carol, and her ex-husband,
singing British cowboy
Charlie, round out the amusing
ensemble cast. Shirley, Dek,
Carol, and Charlie all live on
the same street, share their
lives together and each
support one another in their
tidy but messy blue-collar
community. Dek's betrayal of
Charlie isolates him from this
loving community, and Jimmy
makes his move to steal his
family back. British movies
tend to use actors who look
and act "real" and place them
in equally real settings. It
is this glimpse at normal life
which many find appealing
about foreign films. American
movies, on the other hand,
typically use beautiful people
in predictable plots. ONCE
UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is
not predictable and yet has a
modest charm about it. At one
point, Jimmy sizes up Dek and
surmises that he is not "half
a man," but Dek, in his
lovingly dull ways, is a whole
father to Marlene and a loving
boyfriend to the oft-wounded
Shirley. It is not a neat and
tidy story, but ONCE UPON A
TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is a
heartfelt message of hope for
broken families. It is
sometimes silly, but watching
a carload of Brits joyfully
sing "Stand By Your Man"
almost makes it worth the
price of admission. In a
surprising twist, Dek shows
that he is willing to
sacrifice all that is
important to him to win his
new family back. ONCE UPON A
TIME IN THE MIDLANDS,
therefore, is ultimately
worthwhile, but requires
extreme caution. Please
address your comments
to: Michael Barker, Tom
Bernard and Marcie
Bloom Co-Presidents Sony
Pictures Classics 550 Madison
Avenue, 8th Floor New York, NY
10022 Phone: (212)
833-8833 Web Page:
www.spe.sony.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 102 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Director: Shane Meadows

Executive Producer:

Producer: Andrea Calderwood EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Paul Webster, Paul
Trijbits, and Hanno Huth

Writer: Paul Fraser and Shane Meadows

Address Comments To:

Content:

(H, B, A, LLL, MM, N, Ro, VV) Humanist worldview about a divorced mom and daughter thrown into chaos when the ex-husband shows up which includes slight moral elements with an emphasis that a loving dad may be better than a biological father; 82 obscenities (70 "f" words), 10 profanities, man grabs his crotch, and some flatulence humor; violence includes heist by thieves, mugging and fighting (sometimes slapstick), car accident, and slapping; kissing, brief sexual dialogue, but no sex or female nudity; some cleavage and man shown briefly wearing only a thong; alcohol use; smoking; and, excessive TV watching, theft, and revenge mitigated by theme of loyalty and man admits his mistake about leaving his family.

GENRE: Comedy/Drama

H

B

A

LLL

MM

N

Ro

VV

Summary:

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is a British comedy farce about Jimmy, a man who left his family for a life of crime three years earlier. After seeing his ex-wife turn down a surprise marriage proposal on a TV reality show, Jimmy heads to the Midlands to try to win her back. This odd "dramedy" is thoroughly British and filled with R-rated language and some coarse humor, but the important emphasis on family will ring true universally.

Review:

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is a British comedy farce about Jimmy (played by Robert Carlyle), a man who left his family for a life of crime three years earlier. After seeing his ex-wife turn down a surprise marriage proposal on a TV reality show, Jimmy heads to the Midlands to try to win her back. This odd "dramedy" (a story merging elements of comedy and drama) is thoroughly British and may not connect entirely to its American audience, but the important emphasis on family, blended or otherwise, will ring true universally.

Jimmy's ex-wife, Shirley (delightfully played by Shirley Henderson), lives with her boyfriend Dek (Rhys Ifans), who is reeling from his national humiliation of rejection. Once Jimmy sees Shirley turn down Dek on national television, he concludes that he still has a chance to reunite with his abandoned family. Taking his latest heist money to the suburbs (and followed by his former crime partners he betrayed), he works his way back into Shirley's emotions and buys gifts for his distant 12-year-old daughter Marlene (Finn Atkins). Will Shirley change Jimmy's selfish heart? Will she choose the leather-clad roughness and excitement Jimmy offers or stick with her dull but well-intentioned Dek?

Director Shane Meadows takes the opportunity here to make a loving tribute to the American Western. There are many scenes ripped straight from old Westerns. Sure, a cordless power drill may humorously double as a gunfighter's weapon, but Meadows' story also is as tough and tender as those simpler times.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS contains much coarse language, several profanities and is rough around the edges, but it is a thoughtful comedy about love, loyalty and family. Actors Robert Carlyle and Shirley Henderson are reunited here from their earlier movie together, TRAINSPOTTING, but, thankfully, this story is not that gritty. Jimmy's sister, Carol, and her ex-husband, singing British cowboy Charlie, round out the amusing ensemble cast. Shirley, Dek, Carol, and Charlie all live on the same street, share their lives together and each support one another in their tidy but messy blue-collar community. Dek's betrayal of Charlie isolates him from this loving community, and Jimmy makes his move to steal his family back.

British movies tend to use actors who look and act "real" and place them in equally real settings. It is this glimpse at normal life which many find appealing about foreign films. American movies, on the other hand, typically use beautiful people in predictable plots. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is not predictable and yet has a modest charm about it. At one point, Jimmy sizes up Dek and surmises that he is not "half a man," but Dek, in his lovingly dull ways, is a whole father to Marlene and a loving boyfriend to the oft-wounded Shirley.

It is not a neat and tidy story, but ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is a heartfelt message of hope for broken families. It is sometimes silly, but watching a carload of Brits joyfully sing "Stand By Your Man" almost makes it worth the price of admission. In a surprising twist, Dek shows that he is willing to sacrifice all that is important to him to win his new family back. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS, therefore, is ultimately worthwhile, but requires extreme caution.

Please address your comments to:

Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom

Co-Presidents

Sony Pictures Classics

550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor

New York, NY 10022

Phone: (212) 833-8833

Web Page: www.spe.sony.com

SUMMARY: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is a British comedy farce about Jimmy, a man who left his family for a life of crime three years earlier. After seeing his ex-wife turn down a surprise marriage proposal on a TV reality show, Jimmy heads to the Midlands to try to win her back. This odd "dramedy" is thoroughly British and filled with R-rated language and some coarse humor, but the important emphasis on family will ring true universally.

In Brief: