So I’m at our other site and a colleague of mine, knowing I like films, said did you see Heartlands? Excited to hear I had we then went on a bit of a mutual appreciation bender for this sorely under seen film of earlier this year. (Alex Thompson recommended it to me before I look like an obscurant savant). Before you start yelping and telling me that surely this should be over on Do You See?, let me get to the nub of my point. Heartlands is many things, rural road trip, lament of lost love, but it is also a sports movie. And it is a sports movie about darts.

There is the suggestion that all sports films have exactly the same plot (and they all end in a cup final). This, like all generalizations, is about 95% true. It is certainly true of Black Ball (more of which if I can bear myself to do it at a later date). Heartlands is clever in as much as the stakes are so low. Local pub team, going to Blackpool for a regional final. What does come clearly out of the film is the love of a game, any game as potential escape route. And coupled with that is the idea of hero worship, and here the hero is Eric Bristow – the crafty cockney.

It would be a bit much to suggest that darts in and of itself is a metaphor for the lead characters life. But perhaps it is a suggestion of the status of darts that in the end it does not matter who wins the tournament. Indeed the road trip is all about suggesting there is a brighter world outside your humdrum existence. But it is Bristow’s cameo near the end that sets him on his way. You loved darts, darts will still be there when you get back. Bristow, no longer World Darts Champion, has a surprising amount of gravitas because the film gives it to him. He is still nationally known. But he also comes from an era when darts, even darts, was not seen as a potentially athletic sport. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor would not have worked, these guys trained. Bristow, oddly, ends up representing the type of old British sportsman, with all the so called gentlemanliness and fair play that entailed.

(By the way, its great to see how much the Late Review people hated the film. Everyone I know who had a chance to see it thought it was a minor masterpiece.)