We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Where the Heart Is" was originally set to be filmed in London, according to a press release about the film. Then the studio suggested that director John Boorman transpose the story to New York, which he did. Perhaps that was the initial mistake right there - taking a story that might have been believable with British characters and removing it to a city where it's not an easy fit.
The story stars Dabney Coleman as a man who makes his living by tearing down buildings. He has his sights set on a Brooklyn landmark named the Dutch House, which looks to him like an eyesore but to preservation groups like an irreplaceable piece of architectural history. The preservationists win, and Coleman is stuck with the building. Meanwhile, he is also saddled with a houseful of grown children who would rather soak up free room and board than go out into the world and pay their own way. Coleman sees a way to kill two birds with one stone by ordering his children out of his house and into the Dutch House.
Am I crazy in not seeing this as a New York story? I can picture it in London, taking place right down the street from where the property speculators had their eyes on the boarding house where Madame Sousatzka gave her lessons. But Brooklyn somehow seems like a tougher and less forgiving environment, especially in this movie's neighborhood, where hookers parade the streets, the homeless are everywhere and three lazy rich kids would turn into instant targets.
The movie's screenplay was written by Boorman and his daughter, Telsche, and it shows signs of leftover Britishness, especially in the way it sees street people and neighborhood characters as essentially benevolent and colorful. So they may be, in the films of Frank Capra, but by failing to create a convincing reality for their city neighborhood, the filmmakers reveal it for what it is, a set.