July 23, 2009

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Faintheart (NR)
A middle-aged geek considers the prospect of growing up or potentially losing his family in Faintheart, a light, sweet flagon of honey mead charm.

When Richard (Eddie Marsan) isn’t working at a Home Depot-like big box store, he’s a brave Norse warrior reenacting 1,000-year-old battles at the local sports field with his buddies. Though his wife Cath (Jessica Hynes) once wore her own fair maiden outfit to these reenactments, she is now tired of Richard’s stunted development. And their teenage son Martin (Joseph Hamilton), while he might secretly enjoy the broadsword action, withers like a sad flower when the bullies at school see a picture of him dressed up in his pre-medieval wear in the local paper. He fears his extracurricular activities aren’t going to help him with Emily (Chloe Hesar), the goth girl he fancies, either.

When Cath finally calls it quits — and underlines the separation by dating Martin’s gym teacher — Richard finds himself at a crossroads. Can he give up the historical reenacting to keep his family together?

Clearly not made with a big budget, Faintheart is nonetheless an enjoyable little fairy tale — full of plot points you’d expect but done with enough charm to keep you interested. The movie’s solid B story has Richard’s friend Julian (Ewen Bremner), a Trekkie of the first order, attempting to start up an Internet romance. The first meeting goes horribly but he soon finds himself facing the possibility of an actual relationship with a real-life woman — possibly even moving out of his mom’s house.

With both Julian (who is also a reenactor) and Richard, their overpowering fantasy lives aren’t really (or at least aren’t mostly) about staving off adulthood. They’re about finding a place where they fit in — something they don’t always easily do in the real world. Not a revolutionary idea, but the movie tells this part of the story in a way that is sweet but not saccharine or crude.

Have an awkward teen in your house or your own secret stash of Spock ears and tricorders? Faintheart offers a story that embraces the geek in all of us. B

Not rated. Directed by Vito Rocco and written by Rocco and David Lemon, Faintheart is an hour and 30 minutes long and available via the IFC Films option on Comcast OnDemand.