Playing by Heart (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  6 August 1999 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 16,116 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
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Did You Know?


Most of John Barry's score was replaced with a new score by composer Christopher Young. Barry's credit on the film was retained, however, and a CD was released with Barry's largely unused score. See more »


Up until the end of the movie Angelina Jolie doesn't have her dragon tattoo on her left arm. When all the couples meet for their parents to renew their vows you can then see that she has a red saran wrap heart on her left arm. See more »


Joan: The lad doesn't say much and when he does, he finds just the right words to crush my soul.
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 Contempt (1963) See more »


Drinking in LA
Written by James Di Salvio (as James Di Salvio), Haig Vartzbedian and Duane Larson
Performed by Bran Van 3000
Courtesy of Audiogram/Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Music Special Markets
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User Reviews

The entire theater stayed put for about 4 minutes taking in all they had seen. On a scale of 1-10, 9...
6 February 1999 | by (Redondo Beach, CA) – See all my reviews

I saw this movie twice and liked it better the second time. If you like love stories and involved dialogue then this is a flick for you. It is a quadruple love story with a small dose of extra marital affair, a fair look at a husband's search for himself and a sprinkle of mother/son understanding. Six stories to start and you must follow each of them. All of these stories come together at the end in a way that really touches your heart.

Beware of other comments regarding this movie in this area - a couple of commenters have told the entire story. Part of the joy of this movie is to try to figure out how all of these characters connect to each other. I found it enjoyable to see I was right while I watched it all unravel. There's nothing wrong with predictability especially if you're not really *that* sure if you came to the right conclusions before the end.

Angelina Jolie's acting is stunning and her repore with Ryan Phillipe is perfect. I was surprized to see that Jon Stewart is a natural and Gillian Anderson can do no wrong in my eyes. If nothing else, see it for Sean Connery who is always at his best.

I think that people who don't like this movie don't enjoy the mystery of love. "Talking about love is like Dancing about Architechture." How is this so hard to fathom? The story is confusing because love is confusing. That's what this movie is trying to say. "But that's not gonna stop me from trying." These lines are reiterated in the movie: They're said at the very beginning and then the same scene is shown in its proper order. It doesn't take a genius to appreciate it. Some have expressed disinterest in a few of the characters, such as the affair between Madeline Stowe and Anthony Edwards. It's called a family and once the movie is over, we see how they relate at the end. For Stowe and Edwards, one of these hired the other for a job at a party at the end, and an affair ensued. Stowe's husband, Dennis Quaid, thinks she doesn't like him and does some role playing and soul searching because he's been told he doesn't have much of an imagination. He's only trying to figure out where the two of them went wrong. Some have also expressed concern over why the mother/son segments, played by Jay Mohr and Ellen Burstyn, were even needed. This would have only taken some extra attention to the story itself. Hint to those who have not seen it: they were the next door neighbors to "Hannah and Paul" making Jay Mohr the 'boy next door.'

All in all, all the actors do an incredible job and the story is something to see and LISTEN to. Both times I saw it, the entire theatre stayed put for at least 4 minutes taking in all they had just seen. That alone should intrigue you. On a scale of 1-10 I give it a 9.

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