Heartless (2009 film)

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Heartless poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Philip Ridley
Produced by Pippa Cross
Richard Raymond
Written by Philip Ridley
Starring Jim Sturgess
Joseph Mawle
Noel Clarke
Clémence Poésy
Nikita Mistry
Timothy Spall
Music by David Julyan
Cinematography Matt Gray
Edited by Chris Gill
Paul Knight
Distributed by Lionsgate (UK)
IFC Films (US)
Release dates
  • 31 August 2009 (2009-08-31) (FrightFest)
  • 21 May 2010 (2010-05-21) (United Kingdom)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Heartless is a 2009 British horror film directed by Philip Ridley and starring Jim Sturgess, Noel Clarke, Clémence Poésy and Eddie Marsan.


Jamie Morgan (Jim Sturgess) is a troubled photographer with a heart-shaped birthmark on his face. At the photographic studio he shares with his brother and nephew Lee, he meets aspiring model Tia (Clémence Poésy).

A series of horrific events—including the separate murders of his mother and former gang member neighbour A.J.—lead Jamie first to the brink of suicide, then to the apartment of Papa B (Joseph Mawle) and his assistant Belle (Nikita Mistry). He is offered a Faustian bargain: fulfill Papa B's desire for chaos with occasional acts of vandalism in return for the removal of his birthmarks. Despite Papa B being responsible for his mother's death Jamie consents, his skin being restored by an act of self-immolation.

Initially things go well: a chance meeting with Tia leads a newly confident Jamie to the park, where his deceased father taught him to use a camera. The deal sours, however, when the Weapons Man arrives: Jamie must now commit murder; first of a street hustler, then Tia.

At the studio, it is revealed that Tia and Lee (Luke Treadaway) intended to steal his mother's jewels from the safe. Tia had initially meant only to help Lee gain access to the safe, but she ended up falling sincerely in love with Jamie. During the ensuing struggle Tia is accidentally shot, and Lee is soon wounded by She, the gang leader to whom he owed money.

Jamie is pursued by She, resulting in She's death. Jamie spies himself in a mirror and sees that his birthmark has returned, and with it the knowledge that it had been there the entire time, even while he was courting Tia. Jamie confronts Papa B's minions and fights them off, but then is faced with a larger demon and runs into a building. It is implied that the larger demon is Papa B. The demon resumes the form of Papa B though, and Jamie has a flashback to when they made their original deal, with Papa B shaking Jamie's hand with his badly burned, malformed hand. The viewer is left to decide for themselves whether Papa B cheated Jamie by never removing the birthmark, or if much of what transpired was the product of Jamie's imagination.

Jamie staggers outside where a hooded gang member catches him with a Molotov cocktail. As he burns to death, Jamie experiences an emotionally powerful moment with his father (whether this is a memory or a near-death experience is left unclear) before seeming to ascend into bright light. The light fades into a field of stars in the night sky, mirroring those spoken of by his father.



The film was shown as part of the 2009 Cork Film Festival.[1] It premiered on 21 May 2010[2] and was released on DVD on 25 May 2010 in the UK.[3] Heartless is part of the Fantasia Festival 2010.[4]


Reviews for the film have been generally positive. The film currently holds a 75% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.


  1. ^ "Heartless - Corona Cork Film Festival". www.corkfilmfest.org. 7 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Exclusive Heartless Featurette Learn about Jim Sturgess & demons". Empire Online. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "FanTasia '10: A Bajillion New Posters For 'Heartless'". Dread Central. Retrieved 7 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "Fantasia 2010: Two New Heartless One-Sheets". Dread Central. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2010. 

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