When Mac MacIntyre (played with deadpan perfection by Peter Riegert) is sent by his star-gazing, slightly insane Knox Oil and Gas boss (Burt Lancaster) to Scotland's West Coast to buy the rights to a seaside town slated to be the site of an oil refinery, Mac embarks on his journey reluctantly. "Why do I have to go to all the way to Scotland?" Mac complains to a coworker. "I'm really more of a Telex man." But on the way to closing the deal, a funny thing happens: the place takes root in Mac. The town's eccentric inhabitants, eventful night sky, and stunning scenery soak into his psyche and combine to bring a very different Mac to the surface, a Mac who collects seashells, walks on the beach in his jeans instead of his suit, and throws his calendar watch, beeping "meeting time in Houston," into the sea.
Mac eventually vies to switch places with Gordon Urquhart--accountant, bartender, innkeeper, and community representative in the land deal. After an evening spent drinking 42-year-old scotch ("old enough to be out on its own," Mac chirps, and then laughs smugly at his own joke) and negotiating the real estate deal, Mac tries to negotiate a deal for himself--to trade his high-rise Houston apartment, Porsche, and oil-company job for Urquhart's less traditional, but more fulfilling, life.
The plot runs along almost as if behind the scenes, and the characters are intriguing, but the real appeal here is the incisive yet gentle humor. During a visit to a Knox Oil lab, Mac is shown into a room that contains a miniature of the town he has been sent to purchase. The head of the lab says, "Welcome to our little world," and then gives Mac the plastic replica of the town as a souvenir. "Dream large," he intones. The irony's easy to miss and is just one example of the intelligent presence--in the form of writer and director Bill Forsyth--working behind the scenes here.
Mark Knopfler's delicate, haunting soundtrack complements the sometimes melancholy, sometimes hilarious currents of Local Hero to perfection. --Stefanie Durbin
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Top Customer Reviews
Peter Riegert is great as Mac, a representative of a large Houston oil company who has been chosen to close a deal on a harbor village in the north of Scotland, because of his presumed Scottish ancestry. Turns out Mac is of Hungarian, not Scottish descent, as his parents thought MacIntyre was an American name. Nevertheless, Mac soon finds himself adapting to the rugged North Sea coast, picking seashells from the tidal pools and adopting a rabbit his driver had inadvertantly hit on the road.
Forsyth introduces the viewer to a wonderfully eccentric cast of characters in the small village, led by the amicable Gordon Urquhart, mayor, innkeeper, accountant and jack of all trades. Mac finds himself falling in love with Gordon's wife, but the playful romance is treated more in jest than in an attempt to foil the plot. It is in a grizzled beachcomber that we find the perfect foil to the land deal, which eventually brings the head of the oil commpany, Mr. Knox (played to perfection by Burt Lancaster) to Scotland.
You will fall in love with this movie, as I did, carried along by its charm and beautifully poignant moments. Forsyth doesn't miss a beat in this playful movie.
Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert are outstanding in the main roles - both are transformed by the events that unfold on the Scottish coast - though it is Riegert who feels it the most.
One of the best aspects of the film is the soundtrack, by Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits fame). This is one of his best endeavours (though the soundtrack for 'Cal' comes pretty close), with wistful melodies and spectacular aural 'auras' that emulate the aurora Riegert is told to watch out for on his trip.
Do take a look - but don't decide instantly that it has too little to say if you are not captivated by the first viewing - give it another chance - it'll grow on you!
When I finally got a DVD player, one of the first DVDs I got was "Local Hero". It's definitely on my "must-have" list.
The story is simple -- materialistic Peter Reigert is sent to a small Scottish village to try to negotiate a land deal for his rich, eccentric boss (Burt Lancaster, who is outstanding). He arrives in Scotland as a guy who is only obsessed with business deals, his car, and his posessions back in Texas, but soon he learns there are more important things in life. The townsfolk are absolutely wonderful, all in their own unique, eclectic way. Denis Lawson particularly shines as "jack of all trades" who holds several positions in the community, including innkeeper.
The oddness and beauty of this film takes time to unfold, and it is best just to sit back and watch it happen. Everyone seems to have a story, everyone is eccentric in some way. I especially loved Burt Lancaster and his interaction with his "therapist", who takes the job *far* too seriously. Lancaster plays one of the most likeable and unique characters onscreen. Reigert too, is endearing. He so wants to be "normal" that he can't even admit that he might use a shampoo for dry or greasy hair. "Normal. EXTRA normal.", he says, when asked what kind of shampoo he needs. What an uptight guy he seems at first, but he soon mends his ways.
The score by Mark Knopfler is among one of my favorites too.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A real Classic movie. The soundtrack is amazing. So much fun to watch.Published 14 months ago by DWendy
There may be the making of great movie - nice scenery, very good actors, atmospheric soundtrack, whimsy and authenticity -- but it did not come to fruition...
Why not? Read more
This is my favorite movie because the topics hit home on many levels as someone in an industry driven by deadlines. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2010 by H. Roark
2008 marks the 25th anniversary of "Local Hero," so when will we see a special collector's edition with all the bells and whistles this wonderful film deserves? Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2008 by Amazon Customer
Being of Scottish descent I am a little biased toward this movie's cultural origins but if you want to see an intelligent, well acted, charming film that makes you long for a visit... Read morePublished on Dec 4 2006 by Levack Piper
One of my all-time favorite movies. Very funny, great characters, and a town I would like to live in, with one of my all-time favourite endings. Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2004 by Kilgore
This is one of those movies that you watch and finally when the credits roll you kick yourself for wasting the time and effort to do so.
The bomb dropping jets? Read more
This movie really did inspire me. I got up the nerve to make a solo trip around Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Read morePublished on April 25 2004 by S. E. Fanning
My history with this film is rather bizarre. My father was an American oilman who married a Scottish woman (East coast though), but were in New Orleans at the time it was released. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2003 by A. G. Purker