Sunday, 18 March 2018

Any Human Heart - The Film Series (2010)

It could be any human heart. That's what comes to mind whenever I rewatch the series
based on William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart, although the title is apparently taken from a quote by Henry James.

I have searched high and low for a second hand copy of the film tie-in edition of the book and have only just this week been lucky in my search. Therefore whilst I have watched the series three times, I am still to read the novel. It received mixed reviews but that never bothers me because any artistic rather than mainstream writing will get that reaction. Rather, I look forward to reading what has been described as an erratic narrative, in keeping with the idea that the story is seen not only through the eyes of the protagonist Logan Mountstuart as he goes about his life, but also in journal format so that the present is always that which matters, sometimes totally disjointed from the past and with a changing agenda. Unlike a memoir, a journal also allows the narrator to focus on the now without knowing the future yet, whilst the memoir would be reminiscing and comparing and contrasting or looking at things with a view to what will come next.

As always, I tried to do some research prior to writing this piece and it was interesting what info came up in my search. It seems like the writer Boyd and myself have one fascination in common, both of us being intrigued and enamoured of the idea of the life of any human and how it can be explored in writing. Boyd uses the journal style to give the writing the immediacy of present happenings, therefore bringing us closer to the protagonist.

The well-known phrase 'we are all human' implies that we all make mistakes. Humans are flawed by nature. Maybe the real appeal of this series is that we get to see Logan blunder through life from the safety of our own seat. We are privy to his disasters and achievements, lust and love and sadness, without being affected ourselves by the multiple decisions he takes along the way.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THIS PARA! The plot, if you can so name it, spans the lifetime of a person whose legacy, ironically, is only sealed after his death. He is a writer, one that toyed with writer's block more than actually wrote books it seems, and yet at the end of it his life proved to be his biggest masterpiece.

However even as I state that the series is about a man's life first and foremost, I can't but comment that Logan's life was full of 'love' if we could call it that. There seems to be a recurring theme in films and books that once yo've found your one true love, no one else will ever come close and this mirrors reality in my opinion. SPOILER ALERT THIS PARA! So Logan loses his virginity to his best friend's girlfriend then beds Land, marries Lottie before finding his one true love in Freya and eventually must deal with the tragic end to his very dear marriage to this second wife. He goes into a disastrous third marriage with a cold American woman, one that is short-lived in part due to the ongoing effects on his mind from losing his treasured Freya and their daughter Stella whilst he was a prisoner of war. It is at this point he lets go of looking for love and instead turns to Monday and eventually Gloria for something that is passionate and glorious in its irresponsability and finds peace in not looking for a replacement but embracing instead the fact that he'd lived his one big love story already.

I am sure that once I read the book I will find that there are variations in the film series to the original text. Having viewed before reading this extraordinary tale, I am free to give my opinion on the script and screen interpretation without being hindered by the comparisons and contrasts that will surely cloud my opinion once I have also read Boyd's novel. Therefore I will allow myself to say that, as a stand-alone series not reliant on any previous written version, Any Human Heart strikes me as a well-thought-out and gripping tale that any fan of artsy films will surely enjoy, especially those of us who love to examine the average human life.


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