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Lonely Hearts
DVD disk
08.14.2007 By: Mathew Plale
Lonely Hearts order
Director:
Todd Robinson

Actors:
John Travolta
Jared Leto
Salma Hayek

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two vicious psychopaths (Leto, Hayek) prey on women in the Lonely Hearts section of the newspaper, only to kill them for their money. Hot on their trail are a pair of detectives (Travolta, Gandolfini), one of whom breathes revenge.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck were The Lonely Hearts Killers—murderers with a track record of at least a dozen women and one adorable orphan. The story, based on a grim truth, was first immortalized on film in 1970’s The Honeymoon Killers with actors much less attractive than mascara-wearing Jared Leto and sultry Salma Hayek (her real-life counterpart scaled over 200 lbs.). Todd Robinson’s (whose grandfather is portrayed by John Travolta here) Lonely Hearts is a look at the story from behind the officers’ badges and the killers’ barrels.

Shortly after his wife commits suicide and he volunteers himself to a desk job, Detective Robinson (Travolta) is lured back into the investigative front when another woman turns up dead in a bathtub--a “suicide” that Robinson and the obvious screenplay (by Robinson) are eager to alert the audience is eerily similar to that of his wife’s. With Travolta, we see his strain—not as a guilt-ridden widower seeking answers, but as a struggling actor.

His partners on the case (which quickly ties in with Fernandez and Beck) are Charles Hildebrandt (Gandolfini, who would fit more snugly as an Edward G. Robinson henchman than a hero) and Detective Reilly (Scott Caan), who is treated as a bizarre experiment in character development, going from hawk to worm in a snap. Both men have proven themselves as capable actors (though Gandolfini hasn’t yet shaken the Tony Soprano mannerisms), it’s just a shame they’re handed paper-thin personalities.

Same goes for the killers. Leto (who without a rug, looks more like John Cazale than any womanizer I’ve ever seen) and Hayek draw caricatures, no doubt a trait they bring with their acting chops. But director Robinson shouldn’t be let off the proverbial hook that easily—he has supplied simplified, robotic versions of undoubtedly deep, emotional figures, barring the audience a needed injection of realism.

Cinematographer Peter Levy meshes two worlds together beautifully; from the noir stylings of your favorite Bogie picture to the Malick (or at least Sugarland Express)-esque landscapes. Camerawork aside, the film displays a number of startling images: blood pouring from a police officer’s head like cranberry juice; a snow white angel laying naked and lifeless in a bathtub; foam emerging below the mask of the executed.

Todd Robinson’s Lonely Hearts is a decent, if undesired and irregularly accurate retelling of the true story of a suave, money-hungry Hawaiian and his kitty cat.
THE EXTRAS
The Making of…(11:44): Your standard promotional piece with cast/crew interviews and footage from Lonely Hearts.

And Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Lonely Hearts is a film that doesn't try to be anything but what it is. For that alone, you may want to check out Leonard Kastle's The Honeymoon Killers, a more fulfilling take on the story.
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