Random Hearts

When a movie comes out starring Harrison Ford (Six Days and Seven Nights, Sabrina), Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer), with Sydney Pollack (Eyes Wide Shut, director of The Firm and numerous other films) directing, you salivate in anticipation. Great actors and a great director should make a great movie. But when you watch a movie like Random Hearts, based on William Adler's book, you realize that every once in a while, something good can go horribly wrong. And I'm not talking about the storyline of the movie. Random Hearts is a movie that probably once looked good on paper, but watching it makes you realize how far off that time was.

"Dutch" Van Den Broeck (Ford) is an Internal Affairs Police Officer in Washington, D.C., happily married, or so he thinks. His wife tells him she is going on a business trip to Miami, and when a plane bound for Miami crashes, Dutch worries his wife is dead. Her coworkers and boss know nothing about a trip, which begins to fire Dutch's suspicions. He goes to the various airlines and cannot locate his wife's name on any passenger list. Kay Chandler is a congresswoman from New Hampshire who is up for reelection. Her husband tells her that he is going on a business trip. What Dutch and Chandler don't know is that their spouses are having an affair, and are flying to Miami for one of their trysts. Dutch discovers this, and confronts Chandler about it. The policeman in Dutch wants him to discover as much as he can about the affair. He is driven to find out as much he can about the affair, so he can discover when he last truly knew his wife. Chandler wants nothing to do with any of this. To her, what is over is over. There is no need to dwell upon things that are in the past. As the two interact, they begin to realize that they share a bond. Both of them lost a spouse, both of them betrayed. Ultimately, their relationship, initially antagonistic, becomes romantic.

Anybody going into the story can see the romance coming a mile away. What makes this film unbearable is the length of time it takes for anything to happen. Dutch and Chandler don't even meet for almost an hour. When their relationship changes, it isn't believable. Sure they share a bond, but the change is extremely sudden, and happens for what seems like no reason at all. If Dutch and Chandler truly loved their spouses, would they succumb to each other as quickly as they did? The subplots are also a large waste of time. Dutch's side story revolves around his investigation of a rogue cop. Chandler's side story deals with her attempts at reelection. Both of these could serve to flesh out the personalities of the principal characters, but feel more like filler, extending the film and making it feel even longer than it is.

Pollack does do a great job technically, as he always does. The film looks great, and is shot great, but there is no real feeling to any of it. Pollack also has a habit of showing up in his films, and he does here as Chandler's media savvy campaign consultant. His performance mimics his direction, polished, clean, elegant. Charles S. Dutton (Cookie's Fortune, Mimic) is also good as Dutch's partner, but his role is much too small to be redeeming. Ford (sporting an earring!) gives a dry performance, devoid of all emotion save frustration. Thomas, usually the cheater, is finally cheated upon. She does a moderately good job in the first half, trying to put the past behind her and gearing up for her campaign, but once the love starts flowing, her character does an about face and becomes uncredible. Random Hearts is one of those movies that will probably end up as a black mark upon an otherwise good resume of films for good actors.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 12 minutes, Rated R for brief violence, sexuality, and language.

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