Local Hero

Bill Forsyth, UK, 1983, 111 minutes

Mac, a junior oil company executive in Houston, is sent for by the eccentric boss of his company. Because of his dubious Scottish heritage he is dispatched to a remote coastal town in northwest Scotland to reconnoitre and purchase ground for the construction of a new refinery.

Mac gradually falls in love with the country, spending most of his time strolling along the beach and cultivating his relationship with a research scientist who is also apparently a mermaid.

However Mac is not the sole focus. Scottish director Bill Forsyth concentrates on the relations between the locals and their visitors, using a variety of gentle humour to draw attention to the contrast between Texas and Scotland.

The local townsfolk are perhaps not what we would expect. They are not hostile or provincial, and do not seek governmental protection, but instead urge Urquhart, the town lawyer and hotelier, to extract larger sums from the Americans. Their expectations are reflected in conversations on the relative merits of sports cars and tax havens.

But when Mac discovers that the entire beach is owned by a hermit who is unwilling to part with it, things threaten to turn nasty as the townsfolk consider a lynching.

It all ends with a twist, but I won't spoil a good movie by telling you what happens. Local Hero is an excellent comedy, and a remarkably intelligent one at that; if you haven't seen it now's your chance.

Review by Ian Lindley
Taken from EUFS Programme 1994-95