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With: Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster, Fulton Mackay, Denis Lawson, Norman Chancer, Peter Capaldi, Rikki Fulton, Alex Norton, Jenny Seagrove, Jennifer Black, Christopher Rozycki, Christopher Asante, John Gordon Sinclair, Caroline Guthrie, John M. Jackson
Written by: Bill Forsyth
Directed by: Bill Forsyth
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 111
Date: 02/17/1983

Local Hero (1983)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Grains of Sand

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the 1980s, when many films were about being a success and making a fortune, the Scottish director Bill Forsyth (Gregory's Girl) turned in Local Hero, a lovely film about learning that business isn't everything, and that slowing down and enjoying what's around can be immensely satisfying. Oil man Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster) sends Mac (Peter Riegert) to a small Scottish fishing village to negotiate the sale of their oil rights. There's one holdout, an old beachcomber who lives in a shack on the beach, which necessitates a visit by Happer. Amusingly, the townspeople actually do want to sell, but they pretend disinterest to perhaps get a better deal, and the entire movie has this kind of relaxed, wry feel, with warm humor resting just beneath the surface of every scene. The movie also veers toward the magical, especially when Happer indulges in his love of the night sky and constellations, and when the beautiful marine biologist Marina (Jenny Seagrove) reveals that she has webbed feet. In a Premiere Magazine poll Local Hero was voted one of the best movies of the 1980s, and it has only grown more charming.

In 2019, the Criterion Collection released it in a new Blu-ray edition, with a 2K digital restoration and an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Forsyth provides a new commentary track, along with film critic Mark Kermode. Other extras include a new interview with Forsyth and film critic David Cairns, a 1985 documentary on cinematographer Chris Menges, a TV program about the making of the movie, a making-of documentary, a vintage interview with Forsyth, and a trailer. Film scholar Jonathan Murray provides the liner notes essay.

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