"Playing By Heart"
by Mike DeWolfe
Playing by Heart is all
about the capability of feeling and expressing love. The movie weaves together
a collection of tales about groups of people and how they find love. Paul (Sean
Connery) and Hannah (Gena Rowlands), a couple in their sixties, are at a crossroads:
their children are grown-up, their relationship is cooling off and an old skeleton
is peeking out of the closet. All this casts doubt on their future together.
Meredith (Gillian Anderson) is a television and theatre director who catches
the eye of Trent (Jon Stewart), a contractor whose means of breaking
the ice is unique, albeit accidental. Joan (Angelique Jolie) is young, fiery
and just coming out of a bad relationship when she falls for Keenan (Ryan Phillippe),
a raver who dances alone every night. Meanwhile, Hugh (Dennis Quaid) shows up
every night at a different lounge, with a different sob story to spill on the
first hapless woman he finds. Gracie (Madeline Stowe) and Roger (Anthony Edwards)
are a couple with lives of their own, who meet simply for uncomplicated sex.
Far off in a hospital room, an estranged son (Jay Mohr) and mother (Ellen Burstyn)
come together as he dies of AIDS. These people donít know where love is taking
them; theyíre just 'playing by heart.'
All this sounds like enough
for three, maybe four movies, but the vignettes grant just enough character
exposure to give you a window into their lives. A strong, though sometimes trite,
script and good direction keep all the threads going until the tales intertwine.
You know that they need to come together but just how, isnít clearóand isnít
too important-- until the filmís denouement. This idea of several tales dovetailing
this way has been done many times before (Short Cuts, Pulp Fiction to name just
two) but Playing By Heart still manages to pull it off effectively. The different
tales present something for every generation from Joan and Keenan who are in
a nightclub every night to Paul and Hannah who live in the twilight. The cast
is superb, including gems like Connery in an atypical, but still commanding
role, and Jon Stewart showing that he is capable of commanding a screen
presence. The characters will no doubt grow on you and youíll come away from
Playing By Heart intrigued and just a little inspired.
?1998 Apollo Guid. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Kelly for