Random Hearts
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 27, 2000
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The Movie:

Harrison Ford is a wonderful actor when presented with great material and when he doesn't have great material, he frequently does what he can with what he's given. The only film I haven't liked him in is "Six Days, Seven Nights" - it just wasn't the right role for him to do. I found his performance more entertaining in "Random Hearts", but the movie around him isn't as good as it could be.

The movie opens introducing us to the lives of the two main characters: Dutch Van Den Broeck, an internal affairs cop played by Harrison Ford and a congresswoman played by Kirstin Scott Thomas. Both view their marriage as going well, in their mind. When a plane carrying the significant others of both crashes, they learn that the two were having an affair. The rest of the movie is a look at how the two survivors cope with their loss and as a result, become closer together.

There are little moments that are enjoyable and a good supporting performance by director Syndey Pollack, but why must getting to these points feel like work? There is such a cold, unemotional (almost forgot, bland) feel to the movie that it becomes hard to become involved with any of the characters but Ford's. Ford doesn't have an intensely emotional performance either, but at least he hides his feelings well, and we want to know more. The film tries to bring the two leads into a romance that really doesn't work. Not only does it not feel right to have these two characters get together after the loss they suffered, but the two stars don't really have much chemistry together, either.

The movie pulls, extends, draws out almost all of the scenes to a point where I began to lose patience. It's not a total loss though. You have two very strong actors who do try to make the best of the material that they can. A little editing, a spark of energy, and maybe "Random Hearts" would make for a more interesting movie.


VIDEO: Tristar as a studio has been always consistent when it comes to DVD and their work on "Random Hearts" is no different from their usual work. Well, it's not exactly their best work but it's still very good. Images are bright and remain sharp throughout, with good detail. Colors are also successful throughout - there are a number of deep, bold colors that occasionally highlight scenes, and they look strong and nicely saturated. It's a movie with some occasional great scenery as well, which always translates nicely to DVD, with some scenes in Miami at night that look excellent with the neon lights in the background. The only failing that the DVD has is a little bit of grain here and there, and in a couple of scenes I noticed a slight and not distracting amount of shimmering.

SOUND: The movie really is a subdued, dialogue-driven affair and the audio really isn't much different. The highlight in "Random Hearts" is certainly the music. Even if I didn't always think the Jazz score by Dave Grusin fit in well with the movie, it does sound exceptionally natural and clear throughout. Aside from that, dialogue sounds clear and understandable throughout. Not something that's going to impress, but there are not really any faults with it, either.

MENUS:: Although Tristar has recently made more of an effort to use animation in the menu, "Random Hearts" just has a basic, non-animated main menu taken from the cover art. In a movie like this though, less seems to work rather than more.


Commentary: A good commentary from director Sydney Pollack, who talks mainly about the production, and is also best when he talks about how scenes where made. He occasionally comments on the actors, mainly having priase for them, but occasionally offering his viewpoint such as an instance late in the commentary when he talks about Ford's career and previous films.

Early on into the discussion he talks about the history of the film, which I was interested to hear more about since this was a film that spent years in development. Throughout much of the rest of the commentary, Pollack focuses his talk more on explaining the relationships and the motivations of the characters. I'm not a big fan of commentaries that discuss the story at length, but I enjoyed hearing Pollack analyze the details of every step of the plot and often, found his viewpoint fascinating to listen to.

Although there are some occasional pauses throughout the commentary, when Pollack really gets going on a particular scene, he does offer quite a bit of in-depth information. A recommended listen.

Trailers: The trailer for "Random Hearts" as well as trailers for: "The Way We Were", "Absence Of Malice", "Air Force One" and "The Devil's Own".

Deleted Scenes: 3 short deleted scenes that aren't of too much interest, but are a nice inclusion. The only odd thing is that the narration by director Pollack during these scenes is not optional. I would have liked to have watched the scene, then listen to his comments about it.

HBO First Look: Random Hearts: I'm not a fan of these promotional featurettes, although I certainly appreciate that they are included on DVDs. This is the usual, with a lot of clips of the movie in-between some interviews with the cast and looks at the production at work. It's slightly above average for this kind of documentary and lasts 21 minutes. The interviews are interesting, but it doesn't really go that in-depth into the movie.

Also: Talent files.

Final Thoughts: Maybe worth a rental. I enjoyed the quality that the DVD presented, but I just didn't care for the movie that much. At the halfway point, I'd felt like I'd watched an entire movie, and then realized I was only halfway through.

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