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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Sobering, Moving Treatise On Mortality

9/10
Author: secragt from United States
3 October 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An acting tour de force for Garner and Moore, HEARTSOUNDS features possibly the frankest, most realistic depiction of the flaws in institutionalized medicine ever captured on film, let alone in TV moviedom. This is far from a warm and fuzzy laff-fest, so those expecting a wise-cracking Jim Rockford / Bret Maverick or a happy-go-lucky Mary Richards should probably pass. However, despite the disturbing ordeals this movie documents, there are many heartwarming moments as well. Don't be scared by the downbeat subject matter if you enjoy quality stories and quality characters, because there are many rewards here.

Based on a true story, the helplessness of well-off Dr. Garner to get any real compassion or service from people in his own profession is an eye-opening experience. Anyone who has ever spent time in a hospital will probably relate and everyone else will likely be scared to death. It's somewhat surprising that the troubling theme of this TV-movie could get sponsored. Despite shows like ER, Chicago Hope and St. Elsewhere, this movie damningly suggests that public (and even private) medicine is less peopled with young, vital, compassionate doctors and more comprised of jaded, exhausted, emotionless civil-servant drones with the "I don't know; I just work here" mentality. That may not be such a big deal at the DMV, but when your life hangs in the balance, it obviously begins to matter.

More than an indictment of medicine, however, HEARTSOUNDS is also an indictment of the conceit most of us walk around with that we will live forever. Garner's recovery is full of fits and starts, where we think he is sick and then he recovers, and vice-versa. Ultimately, the movie is as much about accepting the life condition as it is about exposing problems in the healthcare system. On that score, it's one of the better explorations you'll ever see on TV.

CODE BLUE: SPOILER BELOW

In a movie full of great ensemble work, there is one exceptional scene. Overcome by an attack, Garner limps to the hospital and thinks he's made it just in time. However, he soon learns that budget cuts have pared hospital staff so there is no one available to literally keep Garner alive. In order to survive, Moore has to coax Garner to breathe and keep his heart rate calm while they wait for the staffer to come on duty at a certain random time. This simple set up leads to one of the most intense and harrowing sequences I've ever seen on TV, and it's played mostly between Moore sitting in a chair and Garner lying down in bed, basically never moving. Moore is an underrated actress forever linked to her lighter sitcom work but she has since made quite a cottage industry playing tough-as-nails SOBs (ORDINARY PEOPLE) and tough-as-nails righteous ragers (HEARTSOUNDS). The viewer cannot help but be totally riveted by Moore's performance in this amazingly powerful sequence, which will encourage anyone under the age of 50 never to age and those over 50 never to be hospitalized.

END SPOILER

All in all, HEARTSOUNDS is a movie anyone who plans to get sick and die someday should probably see. It's not always pleasant but it's never less than realistic and moving. 9/10

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Very moving film

9/10
Author: bethcdrake from United States
24 September 2006

I watched "Heartsounds" tonight. Its been some 22 years since the original, but this is my first viewing. I'm not sure I could have appreciated the content at age 19 back then, but now at age 41 having experienced serious illness and death along with the frustrations of dealing with the medical industry, this movie has me feeling I've found a diamond in the rough.

Mr. Garner and Ms. Moore deliver such moving experiences, I felt drawn completely into their lives as the Lears. It rings of "On Golden Pond" and "Terms of Endearment", yet unique.

What an amazing film!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Heartsounds touches the heart

8/10
Author: Geddy-Kat from New York City Metro Area, United States
16 June 2008

The current movie era of multi-million dollar action films is spoiling the chances of seeing enough quality dramas being released by Hollywood today. If it weren't for Independent Films, I feel movies released today would consist of 85 versions of "THE HULK". Depressing! I enjoy a good amount of today's' films, with some genre exceptions. This movie is in the same genre as Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias, One True Thing, On Golden Pond, etc. I would describe it as a youthful homage to On Golden Pond.

OK, I like a good tearjerker, and this film is as good as most.

Mary Tyler Moore proves here once again that she is a powerful dramatic actress. She is a great comedienne and is just as strong in her dramatic acting in this part. She could have easily overacted in this role, but kept it in check. Total class act! While she didn't win her Emmy, she deserved it and earned her nomination.

James Garner is a God, as his character is referred to once in this movie. He is one of my favorite actors of all time, reminding me of Spencer Tracy in the quality of his work. He took this part and sank into it. He makes acting look easy. He also earned his Emmy nomination and should have won. It's good he won the Golden Globe for this part. James Garner would be a great acting teacher...his skill is such that it should not die with him! This movie was well written. I have been on both sides of the medical field. Being a patient is the worst feeling if you've been a doctor, nurse, EMT or a professional care-giver of any kind. This film represented both sides remarkable well. I have lived many scenes of this movie. I truly believed the other scenes could have taken place in the real world...even today! The only parts of the movie I did not like were the flashback scenes. Most weren't believable, as far as the characters' hair and clothing. I loved the summer house on the lake. It was beautiful, and gave the movie a nice "On Golden Pond" feeling.

There are no happy endings where heart failure is involved, but there was hope for a good future here. I liked this 80's made-4-TV mushfest, and I recommend it to lovers of the mush-drama genre.

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