Sunday, 11 December 2011

Local Hero (1983)

When the American Oil Company, Knox International, wants to develop a pipeline from Scotland, the head of the company Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster) dispatches MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) to a small village on the North East coast to convince the residents to sell up. MacIntyre slowly falls in love with the village though, and despite the residents being very enthusiastic about selling up, moving away and becoming millionaires, the pipeline depot idea is shelved and the area is saved.

This is one of those films that is nothing spectacular, but captures the imagination of viewers and has become lodged in the hearts of fans. The picture that it paints of Scottish rural life in an isolated community is fairly twee, but never pokes fun at it; the heart of the story being driven by great characters. Peter Riegert is good as MacIntyre, the oil executive charged with going out to Scotland because of his "Scottish heritage". He certainly isn't the fish out of water that he might be expected to be, and is as quick witted as he presumably has to be in the oil industry back in Houston. Dennis Lawson is great as Gordon Urquhart, who runs the local hotel and is the accountant for the village. MacIntyre's local contact Danny Oldsen, played by Peter Capaldi, is perhaps the stand-out character though. Though he is Scottish, he is a city boy, and is far more the fish out of water than MacIntyre, and watching him bumble around the shoreline trying to win the affections of marine biologist Marina (Jenny Seagrove) is hilarious. This is about as far removed from his character in The Thick of It or In the Loop as he could be.

Surprisingly for a story where a multi-national oil company wants to buy an unspoiled part of Scottish coastline and turn it into a pipeline hub/processing plant; the local residents are all on board. You might expect the regular arguments about "having lived here for generations"/"my whole livelihood is here", but this is restricted to Fulton Mackay's character. Don't get me wrong, I hate seeing multi-nationals buying up local areas/companies, but in term of Local Hero, the accepting attitude of the residents allows for a far more jovial atmosphere rather than an antagonistic one.

A heart-warming and enjoyable film, great characters and well made. By the time the credits roll, along with Mark Knopfler's iconic tune, you wish that you were part of this small community.