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Great performances and style, but the script can't focus worth anything. **1/2 out of ****
RANDOM HEARTS (1999) **1/2
Starring: Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles Dutton, Bonnie Hunt, Peter Coyote, Dennis Haysbert and Sydney Pollack Director: Sydney Pollack 133 minutes Rated R (for small amounts of sexuality, violence, and language)
By Blake French:
Harrison Ford really is a good actor. It's just a shame that he has been given nothing but insufficient scripts lately. The same goes for Kristin Scott Thomas, but her last film, "The Horse Whisperer," was one of the best of last year. Then we have Charles Dutton, Bonnie Hunt, Dennis Haysbert, and Sydney Pollack--all potentially fine actors and actresses. Not surprisingly, the performances here are superb. Even though "Random Hearts" isn't necessarily bad, in the end it only proves that even these performances can't save this movie from defeat; it can't focus past the end of its nose.
"Random Hearts" opens with a great setup, in which two separate individuals meet after each of their spouses were killed in a tragic plane crash on their way to an exotic island carrying on an ongoing affair. Harrison Ford stars as Dutch Van Den Broeck, is a detective, or something or other--not that it really matters all that much. He is right in the middle of a big murder case when he meets Kay Chandler (Kristin Scott Thomas) and discovers the secret to his wife's death and dismay. Kay is a struggling but well-known candidate in the center of a heated election, campaigning against the scum of the earth. She and her teenage daughter are both in sorrow, but also in denial, regarding the loss of a member in their outwardly happy family.
Again, great setup. The film contains two different characters and two separate points of view. The movie then introduces the subject of Kay and Dutch's involvement's with each other: Dutch would give anything to have his many questions answered about the entanglement with his wife and Kay's husband. Why did they begin an affair? How long was it going on? Were there any other adulterers involved? How did they get away with this? At first Kay seems a bit repetitive, but it is not long before Kay and Dutch are sleeping with each other, as they seemingly discover it was destiny that allowed the two of them to collide.
Wait a minute! I though this movie was going to detail a tearful search for answers to questions about the affair, not about Dutch and Kay falling in love? Well, they do fall in love. The only thing keeping them from serious commitments is her job and his love for his late wife.
"Random Hearts" is very effective in its old fashioned style. At times the production is quite slow moving and when not, it keeps tedious material nearby. This is pretty tame content here, much milder than the usual Harrison Ford character. I'm quite surprised it got an R-rating, it seems notably PG-13 to me, but maybe teenagers and kids would get bored with the material. Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas both are blossoming with inspiring romantic chemistry. The love triangle of the marriages is a beautiful concept. I only wish we knew more about what was going on.
The main flaw here is not in character but structure. The first act is strong, but after that the film seems like a random collage of events, which may be related to each other, but certainly not woven together like they should have been. The ultimate failure is due to an overly confident beginning--then the writers do too much of a good thing: complicate things, but never introduce or conclude the subplots in an appropriate way. Lets see, besides the would-be mystery involving the affair, the plane crash, the romantic sparks between Kay and Dutch, this film is about: a top secret case which Dutch is in the middle investigating, the heated upcoming election of a candidate running for mayor, Dutch's stolen watch, the murder of a witness, the turmoil a mother and daughter go through when their father dies, best friend cheating on each other's spouses and always being there to save the day, a drive by shooting, the lack of humility, competition, reputation, identity...
Brought to you by Columbia Pictures.
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