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Random Hearts

movie reviewmovie review out of 4




Review by Greg King
2½ stars out of 4

It was obviously the clout of Oscar winning director Sydney Pollack (Out Of Africa, Tootsie, etc) that got this rather predictable and unconvincing romantic drama a green light from the studios after several years in pre-production and numerous script rewrites. It was obviously the presence of Harrison Ford, the box office star of the century, that has given this tired drama legs at the box office. However, it will be poor word of mouth that will kill it within a couple of weeks.

Despite his impressive string of box office hits, even Ford occasionally picks a project that fails to live up to expectations. Random Hearts is a disappointment, particularly given the calibre of creative personnel involved.

The film centres around two people from different social environments who are brought together in the aftermath of a plane crash that kills their respective spouses. Dutch Van Der Broek (Ford) is a tough, no-nonsense internal affairs officer with the Washington DC police department. When his wife is killed in a tragic plane crash, Van Der Broek learns that his wife had been deceiving him. She had been travelling under an alias with a married man with whom she was having an affair. Driven both by his personal sense of betrayal and his policeman's instincts, Van Der Broek pursues his own personal investigation into his wife's life, trying to piece together details of her affair.

He finally uncovers the identity of her illicit lover, and learns that he is the husband of Kay Chandler (Kristin Scott Thomas), a congresswoman running for re-election. Kay, on the other hand, is aware of the potential damage that could result from the affair becoming public, and tries to squash the investigation. But sparks soon fly between the pair, and they attempt to deal with their confused emotions and sense of hurt and betrayal.

Unfortunately, the two leads lack any real chemistry, and their romance lacks any genuine sense of passion. Ford gives a rather tired, almost bored performance here, and he lacks the dynamism of earlier films. Thomas is a veteran of epic romances (The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer, etc), and her usual cold and aloof persona is perfectly suited to her role here. She gives the stronger performance of the two leads, although even she lacks any real depth. Pollack has also wasted a strong ensemble cast in dull, mainly one dimensional supporting roles.

Pollack's direction has rarely been as pedestrian or as uninspired as it is here. The film is a good half hour too long for its rather slim scenario, and the pace is often a little sluggish. The rather clichéd subplot concerning Ford's investigation of a rather sticky murder and a corrupt cop jars with the romance. It seems tacked on almost as an afterthought, a desperate attempt to beef up a thin plot that is clearly struggling to sustain interest.

Copyright © 1999 Greg King

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