Locke-ing for an Irish Tenor
"Hear My Song" is one of those movies which gets better with age, not so much the movies age but your age because when I saw it as a twenty year old I was bored but now over twenty years later the charming and quirky tale makes me smile. It is simply a fun fantasy romance which whilst charming you with the wonderful songs of Josef Locke it also entertains with a quirky fictional story of a young man trying to track down the elusive Irish tenor to make amends for scamming people especially the one he loves. It's not the strongest of stories and you could say unoriginal when it comes to using quirky Irish characters but it has a tiny bit of magic to it which makes the weaknesses not matter especially when Ned Beatty enters the story as Josef Locke.
As the manager of Hartly's Micky O'Neill (Adrian Dunbar) is a bit of a scam artist as he hires look a likes such as Franc Cinatra (Joe Cuddy) and blags his way out of trouble with the Ryan family who own the building and want him out. But it all backfires when he thinks he has hired the real Josef Locke only to discover the man is a fake and it causes major issues between Micky and his girlfriend Nancy (Tara Fitzgerald) especially when she is already tired of him not telling her that he loves her. In need to make amends Micky heads to Ireland and with old friend Fintan O'Donnell (James Nesbitt) in tow set about tracking the real Josef Locke (Ned Beatty - Superman II) and trying to persuade him to return to England to perform despite being wanted for tax evasion.
"Hear My Song" has one major problem and that is a first half which struggles to truly get hold of your attention. We have some amusement as we meet Micky and his wheeler dealer ways as he hires acts which are look a likes to perform and then blags his way out of trouble with a yarn about being born in peace time. We also have the amusement of Nancy tiring off Micky's inability to say I love you, a scene which sees a naked Tara Fitzgerald get angry with him when during sex she says "I Love You" and his response is "Vice Versa". But whilst setting up Micky and culminating with him basically loosing everything after hiring the fake Josef Locke it struggles to grab you.
Fortunately the second half is better yet ironically it is almost cliche as Micky heads to Ireland to track down the real Josef Locke and is given the run around by Locke and his quirky Irish buddies. It is a lot of fun as Micky and Fintan give chase, ending up leaving their car lights on all night when they sleep in a shabby tent but it is all very obvious. But then from watching Locke and his cronies extract a man's tooth with liberal amounts of whisky and a string around a door it is funny as is how they deal with Micky when they think he is a tax man coming after Locke.
But the real magic of "Hear My Song" comes from Ned Beatty as Josef Locke because not only does he have the playfulness of an Irishman who likes a drink but when he takes to the stage to perform it is simply magical. Beatty maybe miming but you don't care because the performance, the arm gestures and glint in his eye makes it feel so real. In fact whilst Tara Fitzgerald grabs your attention during the sex scene and Adrian Dunbar is solid as Micky O'Neill it is Beatty who makes "Hear My Song" the charming movie it is.
What this all boils down to is that "Hear My Song" is entertaining, charming and magical especially when you appreciate the brilliant performance from Ned Beatty as Josef Locke. But without Beatty it is a nice, simple romantic fairytale with a lot of typical Irish stereotypes.