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Random Hearts (1999)
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Review Date: October 04, 1999
Director: Sydney Pollack
Writer: Kurt Luedtke
Producers: Sydney Pollack and Marykay Powell
Actors:
Harrison Ford as Dutch Van Der Broeck
Kristin Scott Thomas as Kay Chandler
Plot:
A police sergeant's wife dies in a plane crash. As if that wasn't bad enough, he soon finds out that she was on the plane with a man with whom she was having an affair. For closure's sake, the cop decides to track down the widowing wife of the man who she was banging. It turns out that the widow, a congresswoman, was also unaware of their secret relationship, and would rather just leave it under wraps. Over time, the grieving duo find more than just betrayal in common and begin to "console" one another.
Critique:
Do you really need 133 minutes to tell a pretty standard story? The answer is no. This film goes about half an hour too long, offers a solid performance by Kristin Scott Thomas, a stoic showing by Ford and his goofy-looking earring, a completely forgettable subplot, but ultimately, didn't bore me. The closest film to which I could compare this one would be MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (6/10) with Kevin Costner. It's about grieving, getting over someone, needing closure, and yes, finding love in places which you'd least expect it. I liked MESSAGE a little better because of the Costner factor (Ford lacks the charm and the romantic appeal of a better-looking Costner), and the more believable romance scenes. On the other hand, I did appreciate the ending to this film much more than the one offered by the BOTTLE, but enough about the comparisons!

The two things which could have easily made this film so much better is 1) If they had gotten completely rid of the ridiculously obvious plot device involving Ford and his job as a cop, which was not only uninteresting, but ultimately swayed our interest and made the film 20-25 minutes longer, and 2) Given the part played by Ford to a better looking man, a bigger charmer and an actor who would have been able to convey a little more emotion than a simple raised eyebrow every now and again. If you pay close attention to Harry's "crying scene", you will note that it actually lasts less than three real seconds (Don't hold back, Indy!). Very weird. Kristin Scott Thomas, on the other hand, managed to hold a decent American accent for the most part of the movie, and did convey a deeper sense of loss and grieving, two feelings which seemed completely absent from Ford's "despondent" (?) character.

So why am I still recommending this film, albeit barely? Well, the premise is interesting, the development is well done, Sydney Pollack is really good in it, and the lightly surprising ending kind of helped levitate this film past my basic cinematic recommendation line. No need to see it in the theatres though. Definitely a lazy night rental with the loved one, so that you could forward the parts which should have been cut out. And remember, this is a character-driven film, not plot. If the characters don't seem interesting to you, skip this adult drama and drum up a romantic evening of your own. You can never have too many of those!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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