The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, April 16, 2000
Wide Angle

Gripping Random Hearts
By Ervell E. Menezes

TWO-timing or cheating on one’s spouses or even girl-friends (women read it as boy-friends) has been as old as life, itself like the oldest profession. But may be it is one’s ability to disguise it that keeps on changing. And celluloid has that knack of putting its finger on the current state of affairs which seems to be quite sophisticated if one goes by American standards.

Random Hearts:Dealing with two-timing spousesTake Random Hearts for example. Two couples seen happily married though they are cheating their respective spouses. It is only when the two-timing pair, on a weekend rendezvous to Florida, are involved in a plane crash with no survivors that it becomes known that they were travelling anonymously as "Mr and Mrs."

The man’s wife is Kay Chandler (Kristin Scott Thomas) and she is a New Hampshire Congresswoman running for re-elections and would not like such dirt to come up before the elections. She also has a teenage daughter who she thinks will be devastated by the disclosure. The husband of the woman involved in the crash is police sergeant Dutch Van Den Broeck (Harrison Ford) who has problems of his own on the beat. These are two unlikely characters whom fate seems to bring together.

  "I get paid to notice folks. I get paid to know who’s lying and I didn’t have a clue." says Dutch who is, therefore, curious to know how long this affair has been going on. Kay on the other hand wants to put the incident behind her as it will come in the way of her re-election and doesn’t like Dutch’s prying into the past.

But then, not surprisingly, these two get close and the chemistry works. Anger, like hatred, sometimes turns to love and these survivors seem to find comfort in each other, if not in their misfortunes. It is a clever plot, not one that one could think of easily and director Sydney Pollack does an excellent job in the first half. The manner in which the story unfolds is grippingly narrated and the two main players do very well depicting their changing emotions.

Bachelor: Predictable fareThese days Harrison Ford has to act his age. He is no longer the dashing young man of Witness or Star Wars. He showed his new image in Six Days, Seven Nights with a younger woman in Anne Heche. This time he repeats the performance and is brilliantly supported by Kristin Scott Thomas who is able to get under the skin of any role. This one is similar to her part in The English Patient though I could not enjoy it having to see it on a poor video print. But I’ve seen her in a number of films and playing a plethora of assorted roles which she puts across most convincingly. There was Bitter Moon, Four weddings and a funeral and most recently The Horse Whisperer to mention only a few. She is most certainly an excellent actress, a favourite of mine in fact.

Cameos are played by Charles Dutton, Bonnie Hunt and Dennis Haysbert and Sydney Pollack takes a small part as usual and is looking much older for his efforts. But the thing is that Pollack is able to realistically project the situation. The reaction of friends and office colleagues to the "secret affair" is sensitively treated as is the part played by the airline staff to try and protect the privacy of their clients.

It is film well-conceived and the love affair at no times seems contrived but the last quarter is quite needlessly drawn out. A film should end on a high and the last 15 minutes detract much from its overall merit. But all things considered it is a film well worth watching.

The other Hollywood release is Bachelor and the title says it all. In praise of bachelorhood, isn’t it? Remember Cliff Richard’s Bachelor Boy song. I think the film was Summer Holiday. Here Jimmie Shannon (Chris O’Donnell) prides his freedom and doesn’t want to be hooked like his friends. But then when he meets the adorable Anne (Renee Zellweger) he seems to have second thoughts.

Things are quite predictable and his love blossoms but just when he is about to take the plunge there is an amusing twist. To provide the climax is Jimmie’s grandfather’s will by which he will inherit a hundred million dollars if he marries before his 30th birthday. But when he opens the will he has barely 24 hours to get married in. Some dilemma for poor Jimmie.

Not that the film is anything outstanding. But it does have its moments and during his dating days one is reminded of the Michael Caine in "Alfie." You love and leave them but in the end someone else is likely to do the same to you? They call it the equaliser and is doesn’t come only in football.