Martin’s father makes him an unwilling partner in his Viking demonstration.
As we are introduced to Richard (Eddie Marsan), we discover that his life is in turmoil and so far hasn’t amounted to much. Richard’s main interest in life is participating as a Viking combatant in re-enactments of 11th century battles with the Normans in their English Midlands community. He and his other like-minded friends constantly plan and participate in these events. Richard even looks the part, with long hair, drooping mustache and medieval battle dress. The film opens at one of these events, which is going along fine until the stealthy approach of the Vikings is interrupted by Richard’s cell phone. His wife Cath (Jessica Hynes) is calling him wondering where he is. He is supposed to be at her father’s funeral service, which he has somehow forgotten about. He runs off the battlefield to his car, spoiling the reenactment, and arrives at the funeral still his his battle dress instead of a dark suit and tie. The crowd stares at him as he walks to the front and edges his way into the front row where his son Martin (Joseph Hamilton), wife, and mother-in-law (Anne Reid) are sitting, adding to their humiliation because he is late and not dressed appropriately. This is the last straw for Cath, as their marriage was already on the rocks due to his neglect of her and Martin while he spends much of his free time with his Viking reenactment buddies, Julian (Ewen Bremmer), Geoff (Tim Healy), Collin (Richard Ridings), Vince (Gary Sefton), and Alan (Kevin Aldon), drinking and planning new battle events. She kicks Richard out of their house and he must move in with his best friend Julian, who still lives with his mother and has independence issues. Now these thirty-something guys are sharing a bunk bed.
Martin’s PE teacher gives him advise on how to succeed at school.
The next morning, Richard goes to pick up Martin for school. He tries to make up with Cath and ask her out for a drink, but she rebuffs him, telling him that he doesn’t understand what separation means. At Martin’s school, we discover that he is picked on by bullies but luckily on this occasion Gary (Paul Nichols), his PE teacher, intervenes. The bullies make fun of his artistic abilities and the battle enactments of his father. In class, Martin starts getting to know Emily (Chloe Hesar) who has some Goth and artistic tendencies of her own, and impresses him with her presentation on witches. Later she talks him into participating in the school play about King Arthur. Richard heads off to work at a local DIY store (like our Home Depot or Lowes) where we discover he has worked for a long time as a floor worker without promotion and is disrespected by his supervisor. This causes additional problems with Martin, when his supervisor won’t let him get off work in time to see Martin’s school play. Meanwhile Richard continues to try crazy things to win Cath back, like driving to her workplace and painting a picture on the lawn with a caption asking her out on a date. Eventually they do go out together again, but things do not work out as Richard had hoped. Cath tells him that she has a new boy friend who is more caring about her needs and that she has moved on from enjoying being a camp follower at battle reenactments. This causes Richard to start a spying campaign which ends up discovering that his rival is Gary, the PE teacher at Martin’s school. Richard also causes an estrangement with Martin when he and his Viking friends do a presentation to Martin’s class. He picks Martin to participate in their jousting, putting a helmet on him and making him duel with a quarterstaff. After getting a blow in on Richard, Martin runs away, humiliated by having to do the very thing that he was bullied about in front of all his classmates. Richard chases after Martin to the school parking lot and smashes the headlights on Gary’s car in total frustration over his family’s rejection of him.
Martin participates in the school play.
Finally, Richard realizes that he is the one who must change if he is ever to regain his family again. He cuts his long hair, shaves off his mustache, and starts dressing in more conventional clothes instead of Viking wear. He tells his Viking buddies that he must make a change in his lifestyle. There is a lot for him to do and it will take some time, but he is determined to make things right with his mother-in-law, wife, and son. Plus he now understands that he must stand up for himself and take on those who would threaten his family’s existence. Now Richard has a real battle to fight. There are some funny twists and turns while this story works to its conclusion as Richard goes to rekindle his romance with Cath, stand up for Martin and make him proud of his father again, and eventually enlist his Viking mates to help him achieve his goals.
When his father discovers that Martin has been hurt by school bullies, he storms off to the school.
Faintheart is successful due to the comic abilities of lead actor Eddie Marsan (Richard). Although much of the plot is familiar territory, there is just enough quirkiness to the story to make it work as a comedy and genuine angst from Richard when Cath separates from him to make the romance element work. Writer David Lemon and co-writer/director Vito Rocco deserve a lot of the credit for making this film light hearted (as opposed to faint hearted) and fun to watch. Fine performances are put in also by Joseph Hamilton as young Martin, Jessica Hynes as Richard’s wife Cath, and by Ewen Bremmer (Julian) as Richard’s best friend. Julian has many personal issues of his own that results in an entire subplot of his own when he tries to meet a kindred spirit on a dating app. For an enjoyable 90 minutes of comedy with a Medieval twist, check out Faintheart.
Encouraged by Emily, Martin jumps in his dad’s van.
Martin’s PE teacher Gary goes to teach him self-defense.
Joseph Hamilton (Martin) wears black high top chucks throughout the film. The students at his English prep school are lucky because they are allowed to wear sneakers instead of leather dress shoes with their suits and ties. The camera work doesn’t have any close ups but Martin is framed in many scenes wearing his chucks. The best scene with them occurs when his PE teacher, who is making moves on his mother, wants to teach him self defense. Martin is pretty unsuccessful at this until he gets a lucky punch in on his teacher, who then leaves in disgust. Martin has to be a little bit happy with himself for that.
Gary and Martin sparring in the backyard (shot 2).
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