When it comes to feel-good high school romps, on the one hand we have unforgettable, timeless classics like The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – or any other John Hughes film for that matter – that are irresistibly delightful thanks to richly written and charming characters finding themselves in hilarious but relatable situations. And then we have Metal Heart, the sort of brain-numbing, shallow and manipulative drivel that’s more insulting than it is funny in its oversimplification and lack of character. The feature debut from Irish filmmaker Hugh O’Conor, Metal Heart‘s plot follows non-identical twins Emma (Jordanne Jones), the “weird” rock chick, and Chantal (Leah McNamara), the superficial popular girl, who are left home alone the summer after high school. When a mysterious young man (Moe Dunford) moves in next door, however, sisterly rivalry grows fierce and a wedge is driven between Emma’s relationship with Chantal and her bandmate (Seán Doyle).
While there will be some viewers who’ll be able to find some semblance of entertainment from Metal Heart’s highly contrived and clichéd narrative, it’s this painfully conventional narrative that works to the feature’s detriment. Those who have even the most rudimentary familiarity with this genre will already know what every major story beat is going to be within the first few minutes, with the film doing little on the way to subvert these conventions. The biggest issue lies in just how much the script leans into character stereotypes as a means for a cheap joke even if it completely contradicts the bodged messages of not judging people who are different.
Alongside the one-dimensional characterisations, the narrative depth is likewise just as disgustingly shallow. In spite of Jones and McNamara’s brilliant onscreen chemistry, with Jones in particular being a highlight of the film, the script is simply unable to do their talents justice. Every pivotal event in the sisters’ journeys is so forced that the emotional payoffs are undeserved when they arrive, especially when every problem is conveniently solved at the end before finishing on a (rather bad) song.
Aside from a commendable performance by Jones and the occasional funny joke, there’s not much to make viewers feel good in Metal Heart. Some may find joy in the overwhelming mediocrity, but it’s not enough to make it worth opening our hearts to this movie.
Metal Heart does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.