Lonely Hearts (1982) Poster


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Beautiful movie
Warning: Spoilers
LONELY HEARTS is the story of a shy retiring piano tuner, Peter (the late, great Norman Kaye) who, after living with his mother all his 50 years, finds life a lonely place, when she passes away. This toupee wearing Shy-guy (with only his dog for companion) is willing to make up for lost time, so he enrols in a dating agency, who (after taking his money, in a scene that's nothing but legitimate blackmail) give him a contact.....the equally shy and timid Patricia (who is roughly 10 or so years younger than Peter) and so begins a courtship that is equally cringe-worthy, as it is beautiful.

The movie isn't all tears and sadness, as director Paul Cox injects his usual sly wit to proceedings, and finds the humour in our everyday lives and insecurities (most notably, the movie pokes fun at the 'luvvie' world of 'amateur dramatic theatre groups') When all is said and done, the couple go through the usual ups-and-downs (no thanks to Patricia's puritanic parents) but it's the honesty of the performers, and their performance, that sets this movie apart from the usual 'hollywood' garbage (nice to see a movie without any male or female supermodels) The end sequence, with a degraded and desperate Peter, sat in his kitchen (toupee removed, and probably better for it) unaware that his (feared lost) love, Patricia is outside, always brings a tear to my eye.....beautiful (one-of-a-kind) stuff.
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A love story for the rest of us.
SherryT6 January 2002
I saw this movie nearly twenty years ago now, and I'm still wishing that I had a copy.

I'm not going to say much about the plot, because it's actually a very simple one. Two slightly older, slightly less than attractive people begin to have feelings for each other. Both have difficulties in social situations, and neither has a lot of experience with dating or with interacting with members of the opposite sex. The movie is kind of a duet of romantic motion: forward, backward, a mis-step, a detour away from the path to a relationship, treated with great sensitivity and affection for the main characters.

I wish more people knew about this film. It was such a refreshing contrast to the usual formula of two gorgeous people eyeing each other across a room and instantly having an affair. Hollywood does what Hollywood does. Lonely Hearts shows us a slice of life.
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"Lonely Hearts" won the Best Film award from the Australian Film Institute...
Nazi_Fighter_David18 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
While many Australian directors of the '70s and '80s repeatedly turned to period nostalgia, broad satire and Hollywood-derived thrillers, Paul Cox moved on a more personal path, quietly exploring troubled romantic relationships in modern, middle-class suburbia…

After years of making (mostly short) experimental films, Cox attracted the attention of a wider public with "Kostas," a touching account of a Greek-immigrant taxi-driver's love for an Australian divorcée… Invalidated by obviousness in its portrait of class and racial prejudice, it nevertheless paved the way for "Lonely Hearts." Again an engaging romance – this time between a middle-aged piano tuner and a shy and frigid bank clerk, introduced by computer-dating – the film's emotional honesty was heightened by a fine comedy and by a penetrating awareness of repressive parental pressures: exerting their right to live together, the lovers expectedly win their freedom…
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Excellent movie about real people..
Bladerunner•12 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Some reviewer here said that Paul Cox wasn't a good storyteller, I'm not sure how he decided that, but Cox is a wonderful storyteller. Perhaps this person disliked the movie because it didn't have enough explosions or buxom women in bikinis.

Lonely Hearts is a movie about a middle-aged man, Peter, and a woman named Patricia in her twenties who is shy, a bit naive and unsophisticated in the ways of love. They both visit a dating agency, which introduces them to one another. Patricia is a lovely woman, played by the enchanting Wendy Hughes. Patricia's father is a stern man who treats his daughter as if she is still 12-years-old. Her mother hovers and frets over Patricia, while her father attempts to control her life. Peter's mother has just passed away and he lives now alone in the house he has inherited from her, he is played by the always competent Norman Kaye. Peter has never been married and lives a quiet life as a piano tuner. His sister is a nice person, though a bit domineering and talkative, ruling her somewhat dim husband, Bruce.

Patricia visits a therapist, where we discover that she is sexually inexperienced. When she and Peter are watching ducks on a pond, two of them begin to mate and Patricia interprets it as one duck bullying the other - she has no idea they are mating. Peter smiles knowingly, but says nothing. He is always kind and gentle towards Patricia, which is exactly what she needs. Their age difference works well for them, because Patricia needs an older man's patience, confidence and maturity. When Peter is asked to act in community theater play, he brings Patricia and the director asks her to act as well. This helps bring her out of her shell somewhat and gives them both something exciting to do together.

After they've been dating for a while, she is at Peter's home and they are drinking wine. Patricia teasingly asks if Peter is trying to get her drunk, and states that she will not be able to drive home if she is drunk. Peter replies that he will not be able to drive her if he is drunk. They then both agree to drink more and Peter then says he does not want her to go home. Patricia asks if she can trust him. Patricia then suggests that they go to bed together, but "don't do anything", to which Peter agrees.

Once in bed together they begin kissing and it appears Patricia is willing to go further. However, when Peter attempts to make love with her, Patricia panics, frightened and confused by what is happening. She begins crying, leaving abruptly and cuts off all contact with him. Patricia views Peter's actions as a betrayal, despite her therapist's suggestion that it may have simply been a miscommunication. Her fear of sex is powerful and she seems to view any sexual contact (other than hugging and kissing) as a betrayal. Patricia stands firm and refuses all contact with Peter. He tries to communicate with her at a play rehearsal, professing his love for her. Patricia rejects him saying she doesn't believe he loves her and leaves the rehearsal.

Distraught, Peter shoplifts a small amount of cheese and sliced ham, but is caught and taken to the police station, where he gives false information using Patricia's address. The police demand to take him home where a confused Patricia asks him what is going on, using his real name. The police realize he has given them false information and take him back to the station. Patricia interprets his actions as a response to her rejecting him and feels guilty, phones Peter's sister. Patricia's parents visit, hovering and dominating her life. The director shows up, asking Patricia to visit Peter who is depressed and despondent. Her father confronts the director, telling him that he doesn't want Patricia in any play, the director dismisses him glibly and Patricia leaves with him to go to Peter, finally asserting her independence.

The director drops Patricia off and she peers in the window at Peter softly playing the piano. Here Wendy Hughes does her best acting work, communicating volumes with her facial expressions, illustrating clearly that Patricia is in love with Peter. She knocks on the window and Peter is surprised and happy to see her. During a very moving, silent exchange through the window where Patricia sees Peter with his toupee off, Patricia mouths the words "I love you" and asks to come inside. Once in the apartment they reunite, with Patricia again proclaiming her love. When she asks if he "has any of that wine left" (referencing the last time they attempted to be together) it is clear now that she is ready and willing to be intimate with Peter.

This is not a film about the beautiful people, although Wendy Hughes is beautiful (despite the filmmaker's attempts to make her look plain). This is a film for those people on the fringes of human interaction — those people who lack the confidence or social skills required to allow them to function successfully in the arena of human interaction. It is a beautiful love story about imperfect human beings who find strength, purpose and meaning together. It operates at a wonderfully languid pace, finding humor in their clumsy, but moving attempts to escape their lonely lives. Paul Cox is a fantastic director who understands the human condition and is able to allow a story to unfold naturally before the lens, without any attempts at ridiculous characters or absurd situations. He finds meaning and humor in the quiet, realistic events that surely happen everyday throughout our world. This is a film for those people who feel just a bit out-of-place in this life. An encouraging message that love can find any one of us if we're only willing to put ourselves out there, just a little bit.
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A Well Worth Watching Movie
Andi8 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
An excellent and gentle movie with a simple plot that has you hoping that everything will work out well for the main characters.

Works well as a tvmovie which is where I first saw it and was then fortunate enough to find it as a discard at my local video store and thus obtain my own copy which I still watch from time to time.

Well written and with a very gentle sense of humour the plot is simple straightforward and sweet, who could ask for more? Hughes and Kaye and very well cast as the main characters and well supported by others, watch out for Norman's brother in law Bruce, he adds a droll hilarity to various episodes as does theatre director George
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Dull dysfunctional relationship of dull dysfunctional people
cinemabitch4 September 2003
In short, this was a slow, measured study of a romance between dull dysfunctional characters. Without giving anything away (there is not a lot to give away, I'm afraid), we watch older characters try to have a relationship in spite of their dysfunctions. Admittedly, this type of slow moving study is probably my least favorite genre.

However, it was well acted and the story ernest. I totally believed the characters were boring and had personal problems. The problem is that I wouldn't want to watch them.

Not my cup of tea, anyway.
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Michael C31 January 2006
After watching two of his films (the other being INNOCENCE), I simply cannot understand why Paul Cox is such an acclaimed director. I find his work uninspiring, wooden and dull. Lonely HEARTS is an insipid, slow, disjointed and uninteresting story. It is not a love story; there is no spark between the two principal characters. Things happen in the film without any explanation. The acting is average at best. The script is utterly empty. How did this win Australia's equivalent of the Academy Award for Best Picture?? Comes off as a second-rate TV movie.

I now see two recurring themes in these Paul Cox films: keyboard skills and rebound. INNOCENCE: an organist hops into the sack with his old girlfriend because he misses his deceased wife. LONELY HEARTS: a piano tuner hits the dating scene after his mother dies. I do not know what Mr. Cox's reasons are for using these themes but, from any angle, he is not a good storyteller.
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Sometimes the "everyday" works in a movie
SimonJack23 March 2014
Everyday stories about everyday people, with actors who can portray them well, don't usually make for box office hits. The vast majority of us fall somewhere in that group. And, quite frankly, we're just not entertained by looking at pictures of ourselves going through the routine humdrum of life. So, its understandable that Hollywood wouldn't make such films, as a rule. The film-makers learned early in the days after sound came to motion pictures that people needed to be entertained. And considering the time – at the start of a worldwide depression, a dust bowl in the U.S. and looming global war, the people needed to have their spirits lifted. So, what we needed was comedy, and romance, and music, and mystery, and action, and adventure to lift us out of the doldrums and keep us in high spirits.

And, that's what we got for the most part. And, even when times are good, what we can expect most often. But once in a while, an "everyday" type of film will come along that's very good and that many people will enjoy. Usually, such films have to reach beyond the routine of drama. They do this most often with comedy or some lighter treatment of matters. Or, they may have some mystery, intrigue or tragedy – anything that will break out of the everyday.

That's what we have in "Lonely Hearts." A story about two lonely people who have only two things in common. They both are shy, and they want to meet and befriend a person of the opposite sex. Some people think of these characters as coming from dysfunctional families. But I have known such people as these. I've known people – men and women, who have sacrificed their personal lives to care for ill and aging parents, other family members, or friends. I have known shy people who are unconformable in company and who prefer to be alone much of the time. I doubt that shyness has ever been considered dysfunctional. It's just the way some people are wired. In time, many people adapt, change or open up to other people.

This is a fine story of two very shy people who are able finally to take a chance at meeting someone. It has the usual ups and downs, with some humor, warmth, suspicion, fear, and yes – lingering shyness. Far from being mundane, the film takes us along as the leads interact and take steps to change their lives. And in the end, we share in their happiness as they come out of their shells to begin a new chapter in their lives together.
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