SIFF 2019 Review: ‘Metal Heart’

The director of Metal Heart, Hugh O’Connor, has been an actor since age 9, and acted in both TV and movies, but this is his first directorship.  He looks like one of Tolkien’s elves and is quite funny.  He told the audience at the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF): “It’s a comedy, but if you don’t laugh, it’s a drama!” 

Luckily, people did laugh. 

When asked if the film had originally been intended to be more comedic or more dramatic, he admitted that he originally had leaned towards the dark and grim, perhaps even with a murder or two, but the writer he worked with, Paul Murray, introduced such great wit into the screenplay that it became a “dramedy” instead. 

It was the right choice.

The two main characters are fraternal twins but nothing alike in personality.  Chantal, if American, would be the cheerleader and prom queen.  She is a social butterfly.  In reaction to her sister, Emma has chosen to go Goth and hangs with another Goth friend Gary who wants Emma to join him in an alternate music band.  Sister rivalry brews and bubbles as their parents leave them to themselves during the summer after high school graduation. 

Both actresses are great in their roles.  Jordanne Jones who plays Emma has a more demanding role than Leah McNamara (Chantal), but both are convincing in their portrayals.  Actor Moe Dunford comes along as Dan, a ‘could-have-been’ rock star to sweep Emma off her feet.  Moe is the quintessential Irish charmer, and though we suspect he is too good to be true, he keeps us guessing for a while.  I really liked his naturalistic acting skills.   

Metal Heart was a very entertaining film.  I found it refreshing that it lacked the meanness of many American teen relationship films.  It was charming without being maudlin.  A great first effort for the director Hugh O’Connor.

This movie was reviewed as part of our coverage of the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).

By Karen Samdahl
Related categories: SIFF