Stuck in a rut, running his local newsagents and playing darts down the local, Colin (Michael Sheen) has his routine thrown for six when he discovers his wife Sandra (Jane Robbins) is playing hide the shaft with cocksure copper Geoff (Jim Carter). The philandering pair scarper to Blackpool, where Jim's playing in the world darts championship. Colin pursues. A voyage of discovery begins.
This is the sort of rambling, character-focused comedy we do so well in the UK and though Damien O'Donnell's latest isn't the best example, it holds enough charm to warrant taking the trip. Partly this is because there's the odd quirky turn in the narrative road. Partly it's because Mark Addy's lard-arsed publican is guaranteed to tickle ribs with his bitter retorts. But mainly it's because Sheen's central performance is tuned to perfection, his quiet despair keeping you on side from beginning to end.
Okay, so Heartlands has dips in the road, too - the pace is so laid back that you half expect Compo, Clegg and Foggy to come sliding down the hill in a bathtub - - but, as tricky sophomore efforts go, it ain't half bad. After all, you can't expect an East Is East every time.
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