Eye For Film >> Movies >> Random Hearts (1998) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Infidelity and the loss of a loved one are two of the toughest tests in any marriage. Combine them and you could have emotional meltdown - or be ankle deep in maple syrup. What saves Random Hearts from the molasses pit is Kurt Luedtke's script, actor/director Sydney Pollack's good taste, a tight-lipped performance from Harrison Ford and someone quite amazing in the shape of Kristin Scott Thomas.
On paper, the story swims with the mermaids. Cop's wife and congresswoman's husband die in plane crash, exposing the secret of their affair. Cop gets on the case. Congresswoman doesn't want to know. Anger and tears are suppressed for the sake of her daughter/his job. He becomes obsessive about detail, she resents his interference, until...
Pollack's CV is an embarrassment of riches - Three Days Of The Condor, Tootsie, Out Of Africa, The Firm. You feel safe in his hands, until you catch up with Havana, or Sabrina. Here, he is back on form, in complete control and assuming one of the secondary roles, as a spin doctor, which might have been better, it has to be said, with someone else. Ford takes on the personna of his downbeat cop in The Devil's Own, except this time he means it. The contrast between "Dutch" Van Den Broeck and Kay Spenser-Chandler is beautifully judged. "I get paid to notice stuff," he growls. "I get paid to know who's lying." He is a man who works on intuition and finds it hard to cry.
She is in the middle of a re-election campaign, closeted with publicists. Everything that surrounds her is artificially enhanced for the sake of the media. Real life has a tough time getting through. "Dutch" forces her to face it, to study the deception ( "What is the last thing between you and your husband you know is true?"), to smell the sheets. She doesn't thank him.
Scott Thomas is a revelation. Few actors work from the inside out with such delicacy and focus. She did it with style in The English Patient and neurotic energy in The Horse Whisperer. Here, her understanding of Kay is remarkable. This is the most intelligent piece of acting since Cate Blanchett played Elizabeth. If you distrust human interest blockbusters and think Harrison Ford should return to the carpentry bench, see this movie for her.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001