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Random Hearts

Starring Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas
Screenplay by Kurt Luedtke
Based on the novel by Warren Adler
as adapted by Darryl Ponicsan
Directed by Sydney Pollack
website: www.sony.com/randomhearts

IN SHORT: After half an hour, you'll wish you were on the airplane . . . [Rated [R], 131 minutes]

. . .which crashed into the Potomac River, just outside of Washington DC. This sets in motion a story that moves so slowly that, by the time it's sorry excuse for a script gives up the ghost and truly makes no logical sense at all, you will have long since given up any desire to care.

And before I start taking this thing apart bit by bit, I'll report that my gal pal really liked Random Hearts, although she found the flick to be very slow. Which it is. When I started running down my list of stuff that didn't make sense, her answer was a simple "Well, yeah. I don't care."

The sad part is that, for the first half hour or so, Random Hearts is a very interesting and well set-up movie, presenting a situation which you do care about. The thought danced around my brain that Harrison Ford might have found a dramatic role more solid than the one he played in Witness. We meet DC Internal Affairs Sgt. "Dutch" Van Den Broeck (Ford) and his lovely wife Peyton (Susanna Thompson), a catalog designer for Saks Fifth Avenue. No kids. Good sex life. Happy loving couple. On the other side of town is Representative Cullen Chandler (Kristin Scott Thomas), representing the second New Hampshire, filling a seat left vacant by the death of her father, and her husband Cullen (Peter Coyote). It seems to be a fairly run down, but not in a rut, coupling. The pressures of the coming political campaign are putting some strain on, but everything appears copacetic. Everybody goes off to work.

Dutch and his partner Alcee (Charles S. Dutton) are busy taking down corrupt cop George Beaufort (Dennis Haysbert) who is shaking down merchants for protection money. As the day goes on, television monitors in the background report a plane crash in the Potomac. Dutch pays it no mind until he checks his phone messages and discovers that his wife may have been on the plane. Like I said, good set up. The events that bring Dutch and the Congresswoman together are equally good. The latter is concerned about the effects a revelation about a philandering husband will have on her campaign. The former wonders why he, a police detective, had no idea his wife was messing around (and if you didn't know this part by now, you haven't been watching TV or seen the trailer, 'cuz they give the connection away).

And, this being the movies, you also know walking in that the pair will be doing the liplock thing before the two plus hour thing is through. When it happens, it happens suddenly. You might want to discuss the why afterwards, but neither I nor my femme friends bought into it for a second. The emotional connection may have some psychological root, but all it does is derail the "investigation" long enough that, by the time the script tries to manipulate you towards a high tension ending, well, I said it at the top. The problem, methinks, was evident as soon as the writing credits appeared on the big screen. Take a look at the convolution up top. Does it make you think of a game of "telephone"? Does to me.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Random Hearts, he would have paid...


Rent it. On the flip side, CrankyCritic® correspondent Paul Fischer liked the flick. His review is here as are interviews with Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Click to buy films by Sydney Pollack
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The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is  Copyright © 1995  -  2013 by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.