Playing by Heart (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  6 August 1999 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 16,118 users  
Reviews: 195 user | 76 critic

Eleven articulate people work through affairs of the heart in L.A.



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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Mills ...


Eleven articulate people work through affairs of the heart in L.A. Paul produces Hannah's TV cooking show, and they must move beyond gentle barbs when she wants to know about an affair of his years ago. Mark is dying of AIDS, and his mother comes to his bedside: they must talk truthfully. Men have scalded Meredith so she rebuffs Trent's charm, but he persists. The trendy, prolix Joan tries to pull the solitary Keenan into her orbit: why is he reluctant? An adulterous couple meet at hotels for evening sex, but she is unwilling for the relationship to grow. Hugh tells tall tales, usually tragic, to women in bars. By the week's end, their parallel stories converge. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The comedy with a twist. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 August 1999 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Dancing About Architecture  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,669 (USA) (1 January 1999)


£122,758 (UK) (13 August 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The house Jon Stewart's character lives in is the same house used for Tim Allens character in Galaxy Quest (1999) and Colin Firth's character in Where the Truth Lies (2005). It is known as ''Case Study House #22, aka Stahl House'' and is in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles. See more »


Throughout the entire movie, whenever there is a scene (and there are many) involving martinis, between shots the olives and level of vodka in the glass change. This happens many time when a character either eats an olive or is about to eat one, it will re-appear in the glass seconds later. Also - many times where the character is starting to say something, and the view is changed to be from their point of view and their lips are no longer moving. See more »


Joan: Hugh designs video games.
Keenan: Any I'd know?
Hugh: Uh..."Killer Golf" That was the last.
Keenan: Oh, man. That game was awesome! You have a hell of an imagination.
Joan: Hey, you owe me a dance.
Keenan: Just one?
Joan: No.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening scenes introducing the major characters list their character names with subtitles, but not the actors/actresses who are portraying them. See more »


References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »


Voodoo Dreams
Written by Les Baxter
Performed by Les Baxter
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Music Special Markets
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User Reviews

A very enjoyable surprise
13 February 2003 | by (La Rioja, Spain) – See all my reviews

When I checked this one out on IMDb before watching it I was firstly surprised by the cast: how do you get all those well-known actors in a film which seemed very unprepossessing and might be considered a `sleeper', made by a practically unknown director? Apart from a couple of films in the late 80s and a number of films for video with perfectly unappetising titles, Willard Carroll did not seem to be a promise living up to the great cast he assembled for this film.

How wrong can you be! An excellent drama with real life issues is presented in a more live theatre style than the heart-tugging overplayed resources of more banal cinema productions. I mean, what bad luck that such a pretentious over-hyped `American Beauty' (qv) for instance, receives an avalanche of undeserved accolades, while this little gem just passes by, relatively unknown. In `Playing by Heart' you have a natural well played-out series of events without any of the overladen bombastics so frequent in American cinema. Excellent interpretations here – among the best I have seen of Sean Connery, and Gena Rowlands is his perfect counterpart. Full marks for interpretation to Gillian Anderson, Jay Mohr, Dennis Quaid, Ellyn Burstyn just wonderful, as is Madeleine Stowe, and Ryan Phillipe; and it is the first film in which Angelina Jolie is not appearing only to show off her indisputable charms, as she is wont, but to play her first really convincing rôle without flashing unnecessarily her anatomy all over the place.

So, evidently, full marks to Willard for piecing together all these elements to bring out what is indeed a very enjoyable surprise. Most certainly a film to see again. My only quibble is that perhaps the last ten minutes or so did not quite live up to expectations: however I would not say that this factor spoils any of the impressions made during the rest of the film.

My vote is a little higher than the IMDb User Rating.

46 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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