Saturday 28 January 2012

Movie Review: Random Hearts (1999)

A tiresome love story set in the shadow of infidelity, Random Hearts is an instantly forgettable mess of a film. Lacking the fundamental elements required to create and maintain interest, the movie stumbles in the darkness created when the thinnest of ideas is starved of thoughtful development.

A deadly plane crash in Florida reveals an affair between the wife of Washington DC internal affairs Sergeant Dutch Van Den Broeck (Harrison Ford) and the husband of New Hampshire Congresswoman Kay Chandler (Kristin Scott Thomas). Dutch tracks down Kate, but although she is not interested in his obsession to find out more about the affair between their deceased spouses, she follows him around anyway. Eventually they fall in love, as Kate struggles to get re-elected and Dutch's job performance becomes more erratic and violent.

Random Hearts delivers a nine word concept - betrayed spouses of dead cheating couple fall in love - and then drags its dead weight around trying in vain to find a reason to exist. Director Sydney Pollack, in one his worst outings, somehow prolongs the agony of nothing happening to more than two hours, and the best anyone can come up with is Dutch muttering a few times about needing to know what the plans of the cheating couple may have been.

Random Hearts fails at the basics. The illicit lovers are barely introduced before being killed; the reasons behind the affair are never revealed; nor are the betrayed marriages depicted beyond a single scene. In short, all the important drama-generating details of the central extramarital affair are omitted, leaving a void in the middle of Random Hearts as Dutch chases and unsurprisingly fails to find undefined shadows.

The drama plumbs the depth of intellectual and emotional bankruptcy when the search for the empty apartment where the cheating took place becomes the main quest in the film. This dumbfounding non-event is saddled with ridiculous importance, and when Dutch and Kay finally find the place, they incomprehensibly emotionally aggravate each other in a moment of amateurish disconnect between screenwriters and audience.

A side-story involving Dutch trying to nail corrupt cops goes nowhere and comes across as pure padding, while Kate is unbelievably portrayed as a most unconvincingly insecure politician. Random Hearts suffers further with Harrison Ford delivering what must be his grumpiest and most humourless performance, charisma parked at the studio gate and replaced by pure grouch. Kristin Scott Thomas as Kate takes little initiative and spends the movie reacting to the instructions of others, unable to ignite neither chemistry nor passion.

Random Hearts has no story to tell, and takes an enormously long time manoeuvring in a dead-end.

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