BFS Video // 2004 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kristin Munson (Retired) // April 29th, 2009
When you're miles away form ordinary, anything is possible.
After the American success of The Full Monty, Waking Ned Devine, and Saving Grace, it seemed like the British film industry started pumping out feel-good comedies crammed to the gills with eccentric characters and cute situations like a great treacle oil rig. By the early 2000s, the boom went bust and the few twee releases to make it out of the UK went to direct to DVD. The leftover sludge scraped from the bottom of this very saccharine well, Lighthouse Hill is quirky with a capitol "irk."
Charlie (Jason Flemyng, Snatch) is a publisher up to his ears in debt. While trying to outrun a loan shark (John Sessions, who really doesn't deserve this), he drives into a mysterious fog and winds up in a town that is obviously lacking a solid mental health care system. There he meets miraculous love interest, Grace Angelini (Lord, give me the strength to keep typing), whose father predicted that someone just like Charlie would carry her off to a happily ever after. Instead of running for the hills, he decides to stick around this miniature asylum because...
You know what? I give up. I can't figure out why anyone does anything in Lighthouse Hill or why every actor is camping it up to hilt when the script is in such sappy earnest about love and fate, except maybe as a survival tactic. I know my brain cells tried pushing me into a coma for my own protection not long after a character said he had a better chance of being struck by lightning-and promptly was.
The movie's main problem is that it's over-egging the pudding to the tune of a few dozen. The town is built around a broken down carnival (metaphor alert!) and every resident is relentlessly, obnoxiously wacky. The love story is buried under subplots about mystical old men, ghostly hippies, inept gangsters, a deathbed prediction, and magical weather patterns, when any one of them is enough to push the quirky quotient through the roof. Grace's social idiosyncrasies and wide-eyed looks are supposed to mark her out as cute and odd. Well, the characters say "odd"; I'd say "autistic."
Everything about Lighthouse Hill is as cartoonishly black and white as the Saturday afternoon specials I watched as a kid. There's the sneering villain, the scheming mother and fiancé, the father who thinks money can buy anything; nobody has any shading to them. If it weren't for the ages of the main couple and the f-bombs, it could easily be a kiddie comedy, only this is aimed at adults with roughly the same IQ. By the time I got to the exploding pumpkins I started feverishly wishing for brain death.
I was provided with a screener copy of Lighthouse Hill, and I can only hope the retail version gets some serious clean up, because the picture is soft and yellowed, with speckles and static throughout, and the 2.0 stereo is equally mushy and faded. No extras are included, which is the one point in the DVDs favor.
Guilty. The filmmakers are sentenced to make a mountain out of this moldy
hill, preferably Vesuvius.
Review content copyright © 2009 Kristin Munson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BFS Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated