Her Heart Still Beats is a modern day adaptation of the classic Edgar Allan Poe story, A Tell-Tale Heart. It is a story of inner torment and is a very high standard to live up to. Unfortunately this film falls short of expectations for a story of this level. It is quite a challenge to do the time honored story justice, but this film fell short on several levels.
Ed is an average hard working suburban husband who works from home and lives with his wife, Sarah. When Sarah begins feeling a little off, Ed noticed something different about her eyes. He asks her over and over what is wrong with her eyes but she has no idea what he means. She eventually feels ill enough to stay home and the more she is around Ed, the more he is tortured by her presence. Whenever she is around him and whenever he thinks about her, all he can see is her eye, and it is turning him mad, and leading him to murder her.
The story is classic and well known, but this film’s shortcomings are not in the script. The opening sequence is just Ed in the back seat of a car talking in a long monologue. The shot and the light pouring in from one direction is reminiscent of an old noir, it is beautiful and intriguing, but after this the film begins to fall apart. The visuals for most of the rest of the film could be compared to a soap opera, very awkward and unnatural lighting and very standard, boring camerawork. This not only makes what is happening in the film less interesting, but is almost distracting at times, wondering why there is a harsh and bright white light coming from one side where it would be assumed a wall should be. The editing does not help much either. Scenes depicting his torturous response to Sarah’s eye are hard to watch, not in a disturbing and graphic way, but in a very annoying way. In an attempt to unsettle the viewer there is a loud screeching noise whenever the eye is on screen, but the high frequency screech is so much louder than everything else that if you are listening to the film with loud speakers you will soon be searching for some aspirin. The shot of the eye is grainy and distorted, and the combination of sound and visual takes the viewer so far out of what should be an immersive experience that it becomes hard to watch. In addition, the sound mixing throughout the rest of the film would also be considered sub-par.
But with all the issues listed above, the number one thing holding back this film is the acting. Fiore Leo has the perfect look for the part of Ed, but his performance is so over the top it almost becomes comedic. None of the actors really stand out, but considering how often Leo is on screen it would be expected that he deliver a more reasonable performance.
Her Heart Still Beats could be summed up as a missed opportunity. The idea of a modern adaptation of A Tell-Tale Heart is exciting, but with the exception of the script there is no aspect of the film that really works well. It would be interesting to see someone take another stab, if you will, at making a modern version of this story work, but in this case Her Heart Still Beats falls short of expectations.
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