Random Hearts

Harrison Ford’s movie mixes expected drama and a little action with some attempted romance with Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient), sans her British accent, as congresswoman Kay Chandler.

Ford plays a Washington D.C. cop, Dutch Van De Broeck, who discovers his wife’s infidelities after a tragic plane crash. Kay’s husband also becomes involved in the crash which leaves both of these strong-willed leading characters dealing with the heart-wrenching aftermath.

In the beginning, the plot largely focuses on the two lead characters which greatly reduces the significance of supporting roles. These supporting characters include Dutch’s trusted partner Alcee (Charles Dutton), Kay’s friend, Bonnie Hunt, and one of the smallest roles of antagonist in recent times, a crooked cop named George Beaufort, played by Dennis Haysbert.

Eventually the two lead characters get to know each other, first at a haunting scene after the plane crash. Initially, Kay refuses Dutch’s persistent questions and wants to forget about her personal tragedy. Then Kay follows Dutch to Miami as he tries to answer the question that drives him mad….why? Dutch investigates around town while Kay reluctantly tags along.

The two make an odd romantic connection that receives some unintentional laughs from the audience (in my theater anyway). The lead characters interactions would be more believable if their circumstances were different interact this way the more you think about it. They have been through much in a short time and yearn for support and understanding. Questionable, but realistic if you spend time thinking about it.

Each time you begin to peak interest in the plot involving the plane crash, you are diverted to a distracting subplot of Dutch’s dangerous investigation of George, who is suspected of homicide. Compare this subplot to Kay’s upcoming reelection bid and the ending scene of the film makes perfect sense because it mirrors each lead character’s personality.

Dutch never really finds the answers to his questions and remains especially stressful when he hears a key phone message near the end of the film. The ending revelations spark more interest as they reflect Dutch and Kay’s true feelings, but culminate in an fairly unfulfilling movie experience. At least Random Hearts has an original ending when Dutch asks Kay a question that could produce a typical “Hollywood ending”. Instead she answers with, “wouldn’t that be something.”

Director Sydney Pollack, who directed Ford in the 1995 remake of Sabrina, makes an appearance in the film as Kay’s political advisor. He begins to play “devil’s advocate” in his first scene with Kay, but then he regresses into the background of unimaginative supporting characters. As a director, he weaves between Dutch’s life to Kay’s life and uses quiet montages of scenery and settings that hint at answering Dutch’s obsessive questions. These techniques provoke many thoughts from the audience, but have small positive effects because the audience has no way to measure how close Dutch and Kay were to their spouses.

Near the end of the film, Pollack pans downs diagonally on a shot of the White House, but then makes an uneven edit when he cuts to Kay in an office interior. This two hour and thirteen minute film provides thought provoking sequences, but you may be in a melancholy mood as you exit. The slow jazz score also contributes to the somber mood of this emotional film recommended with reservations (**1/2 out of four stars).

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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