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Playing by Heart
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Reviews & Ratings for
Playing by Heart More at IMDbPro »

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55 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

very pleasing

Author: Michael Sibley
6 September 2004

Sean Connery leads an all star cast in an extraordinary yet odd film. I didn't really understand this film until I reached the end and then all the pieces fell into place. I had to see it twice to really grasp what the plot was all about.

The story followed four different couples; married, engaged, dating and cheating. Gillian Anderson and Jon Stewart literally bumped into each other and are about to venture out on a first date.

Angelina Jolie is crazy for a guy she met at the club (Ryan Phillipe), Anthony Edwards and Madeline Stowe are cheating on their respective spouses. This makes for an interesting viewing and ending, which was a complete twist, and a pleasant shock. "Playing By Heart" has a lot of complex story lines that really works.

This was a film of epic proportions and showed what it had to take to maintain relationships and what love really is and what it will do if people truly love their spouses. I was impressed with everyone's performance; however, I must point out the most outstanding one, which was by Angelina Jolie. Jolie has finally come out from her father's shadow and created one heck of a resume of films that includes "Gia" and "The Bone Collector" among others.

I highly recommend this film to everyone.

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50 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

A great romance.

8/10
Author: Dan Grant (dan.grant@bell.ca) from Toronto, Ontario
28 June 1999

Why this film wasn't in wide release is beyond me. It had a great cast and a great story and even the trailer for it was funny. And plus, can't Sean Connery sell a movie all by himself? This is a true hidden gem of a film and it is one that really should be seen by everyone.

I won't really get into the details of the film too much because seeing what this film is all about is one of the joys of it. You watch it and you know there is more to it than the screen play lets on about and it is fun trying to piece clues together to understand what is going on. It is a mystery in some ways and isn't that what the movie claims to be? A mystery about love. And as they allude to, love is a mytery anyway.

My fave characters are Gillian Anderson's and Jon Stewarts. Their story hits all the right notes and it is easy to relate to them. They are both cautious people when delving into love. Both have been hurt but one of them is just a little more relaxed and willing to learn about love again. And there is one scene where Gillian jumps all over Stewart about some silly issue and this is the area where most movies go the traditional route and they break up, get back together and live happily ever after. It is a typical concept and it has been done to death. But in this movie it takes a fresh approach to solving problems and that is it's strength.

This is a great romance and it is also wickedly funny. And the way everything is summed up at the end is not only perfect but it is heart warming and it leaves you feeling glad to be in love, or at least willing to fall again.

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46 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

A very enjoyable surprise

7/10
Author: Keith F. Hatcher from La Rioja, Spain
13 February 2003



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.

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43 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Positively Charming . . .

9/10
Author: Kritically Kind from In the Clouds
22 November 2004

When I first came across this movie I was somewhat unconvinced by the blurb given on the back of the DVD. However, I decided to give it a chance any way (mostly due to the excellent ensemble cast) and I found that I was completely surprised - this movie was positively charming ! Granted, it is not without its slightly exaggerated moments but in the end this does nothing but add to its charm ! Angelina Jolie's character, Joan is delightful if somewhat melodramatic and Gillian Anderson does a great job as the relationship-shy Meredith enraptured with, yet afraid to commit to, the charismatic Trent. Sean Connery's performance is effortless and the rest of the cast are all excellent as well. There are light moments and completely heart-breaking moments but all in all - it ends on such a high note of hope that one cannot help but be delighted !

Definitely worth your time - 9/10

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34 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful in so many ways...

9/10
Author: rose_81 from Falkenberg, Sweden
28 June 2004

There are certain movies that grab ahold of you at the first scene, or even the first line, and refuse to let you go until the credits start rolling in. This is one of those movies. And I can go on and on about what makes this movie great, but I can't list all of them, since there's a thousand word limit, so I'll just take the principal two, with a PS. Here they are... Story: This is six different stories, woven in to one. As the movie progresses, and we learn more about the different characters, we see more and more of their connection to each other. And that just gives you so much more to enjoy. Acting: There are a lot of talent in this movie, but the two that really steal the movie are Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillipe. They put on awesome show together. PS: Ryan is sexy even with blue hair...

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23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Short stories

7/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
4 October 2005

Writer/director Willard Carroll, the director of "Playing by Heart", has constructed a multi storied film where different narratives are seen completely without any idea how they are connected until the end. This device has been employed by other directors, notably, Robert Altman. Whereas Mr. Altman interconnects his scenes differently, Mr. Carroll, keeps the stories separate, only to have them come together at the end.

The director was exceptionally lucky in amassing this talented cast to appear in his film. Viewers of all ages will identify with the different stories since they resonate with different age groups. Most comments submitted to IMDb seem to be from young viewers who think the best thing in the movie are Joan and Keenan. While this couple do a good job, there are other good moments involving some of the other couples we see in the film.

Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands make an excellent couple. Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillippe do also good work in the film. But Madeleine Stowe and Gillian Anderson have more interesting characters. Same could be said about Dennis Quaid, who makes a mark as Hugh, the tormented man who discovers his wife's infidelity. Anthony Edwards, Ellen Burstyn, Jay Mohr, and a surprising Jon Stewart are among the actors seen in minor roles.

The film will delight audiences because the film catches one's imagination from the beginning.

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25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Endearing

10/10
Author: hershykissed26 from United States
10 June 2004

This movie takes you by surprise from the minute it begins. The cast is filled with many beautiful and brilliant actors. There is never a dull moment in this movie, it makes you question your relationships and how to make them better without being "Hollywood". Sean Connery is certainly a stand out in this movie as well as Gena Rowlands who by far is an extraordinary actress with many dimensions to her. Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillipee are sweet and tender in this film...it can make you cry at the emotions that come out of them.

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26 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Good, but not great

Author: Mike Salvati (mikesalvati@yahoo.com) from New Jersey, USA
9 July 1999

Talking about love is like dancing about architecture," claims Angelina Jolie as Joan in Playing By Heart. An ensemble romance that should at least be notable for bringing together such a large and diverse cast, Playing By Heart is an enjoyable romantic tale of eleven people in Los Angeles whose lives are interconnected.

Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands play the oldest couple. Dealing with old age, Gena discovers that Sean considered having an affair during their 40 years of marriage. Learning to deal with this 25 years later, Rowlands and Connery are very good as a couple going through changes late in life. Connery is as dashing as ever, and him and Rowlands seem they have been together for 40 years. Their story is convincing and refreshing.

Keenan (Ryan Phillippe) and Joan (Angelina Jolie) are the youngest couple, two club kids looking for companionship in a complex world that Connery and Rowlands had never conceived of. Their story is as engaging and believable as that of Hannah and Paul. Jolie is the real star of this movie. No matter how composed she makes Joan out to be, we can always see her insecurities lurking just beneath the surface. Phillippe has little to do but bounce off of Jolie's tour-de-force, but he does it admirably and they make a sexy, believable young couple.

John Stewart and Gillian Anderson are also very good. She is a lonely theater director and he is a lonely architect. They have a natural unforced chemistry that you wouldn't expect from these two very different television personalities. Although their relationship in the script seems ill-conceived, their performances almost make up for it.

Madeline Stowe and Anthony Edwards are the most unappealing and ridiculous couple in the movie. As a couple cheating on their respective spouses, they have secret rendezvous in a hotel room almost every night from what it would seem. We never know the specifics of anything which is amusing at first, but becomes tired by the end of the film, as do the performances of Edwards and Stowe.

Ellen Burstyn and Jay Mohr play a mother and son. Mark is dying of AIDS and his mother rushes to his bedside. Mark and become very close before he dies. Although Burstyn and Mohr are good their story gets little screen time and thus doesn't feel as important as it should be.

Finally, Dennis Quaid is a man who spends his evenings in bars telling fantastical stories to anyone who will listen. Why does he do this? I can't give away the film, but the answer isn't truly satisfying, although Quaid gives a very good performance.

The stories all manage to come together in the end in a way that's clever and satisfying. While not the best movie, Playing By Heart has its heart in the right places and manages to have some keen insights into love and relationships.

Grade:B+

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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

The entire theater stayed put for about 4 minutes taking in all they had seen. On a scale of 1-10, 9...

9/10
Author: Starlet (starlet24@aol.com) from Redondo Beach, CA
6 February 1999

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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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

People need to watch movies with their mind as well as their time

Author: Stumpy22 (herdda@earlham.edu) from Indiana
22 October 1999

I was quite impressed with the entire presentation of the film. The characters were well developed, individual, and full of potential and humanity. The relationships were actual and realistic, a wonderful break from the Fantasy of Sleepless in Seattle (or You've Got Mail, pick the title you want). The presentation of people with problems and realistic responses to these problems and the people who are affected by these problems really makes this movie more than a past-time; it is a gift, showing us what we are and what we can become with some work and maybe a small paradigm shift.

Everyone did a wonderful job of presenting real people, Sean Connery found a role which allowed him to be his age but not loose that which he is loved for: sinful good looks and flawless composure. Gillian Anderson was so good that by the end I had almost stopped waiting for Molder to arrive. But for me Angelina Jolie was the centerpiece, as she showed the greatest degree of development and growth, epitomizing the struggle that each person was going through.

To me, the plot was a lot more complicated than just the feelings that develop from watching the movie, and the depth of perception is honestly presented in the comments of the other reviewers; most seem to have watched the movie with so much intensity that they got up 35 minutes into it to go and tell the popcorn boy to give them a new bag because they had specifically asked for NO butter. This movie is cognitive to the degree it is affective. It takes one relationship and divides it up into several stages (seen as the family members' relationships), and in doing so it allows us to see relational development in ways we normally can't, just as we repeatedly see the time of day change against the buildings.

It is funny, it is romantic, but it is true. And I am thankful for its gift of sight: into life, into death.

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