The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter (George More O'Ferrell, 1953) novel by Graham Greene

An unhappily married British security officer stationed in Sierra Leone during WWII falls in love with a young German woman and starts an affair. He soon starts feeling guilty.

Lesley Howard, Ian Dalrymple, Maria Schell, Denholm Elliott, Peter Finch, Michael Hordern

This is of course from the story by the famously Catholic Graham Greene, so of course it's of little interest to me. Scobie, Trevor Howard's character, commits adultery and then takes communion without having first confessed his sin. This means for him that he has committed a mortal sin (and will be condemned to hell). He then, illogically, more or less commits suicide by gang, thus committing another mortal sin, suicide. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, I guess. Just before he throws himself into the middle of the gang which presumably kills him (the film then ends) he is seen to be carefully loading his pistol with six bullets. So why didn't he use the gun when confronting the gang? Perhaps we are meant to think that he intended to shoot himself, but then took the opportunity to get someone else to kill him (thus inducing his murderers also to commit mortal sins). Also illogically, he always had the option of confessing both mortal sins (adultery and taking communion). I guess he was just depressed.

If this creeky movie has any redeeming quality, it might be that it has no written music soundtrack, but uses West African music - and indeed there is one scene in which musicians are seen playing kora and balafon or whatever, which might be of folkloric-historical value.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 2 February, 2018 | Now: 3 February, 2018