Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Random Hearts

Reviewed by: Deanna Marquart
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Romantic Drama
Length:
2 hr. 13 min.
Year of Release:
1999
R
Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas in Random Hearts.

Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas in Random Hearts.

Starring: Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard Jenkins, Charles Dutton, Bonnie Hunt. | Directed by: Sydney Pollack. | Produced by: Sydney Pollack, Marykay Powell, Ray Stark. | Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous,” Psalm 15:1-2b.

After viewing “Random Hearts”, I felt like clinging to this passage of Scripture as a means of purging my soul from what I had just taken in.

Dutch Van Den Broeck (Harrison Ford) and Kay Chandler (Kristin Scott Thomas) both appear to be in two separate happy supportive marriages. But a Miami-bound plane from Washington D.C. crashing into the Chesapeake Bay changes this image as Dutch, a sergeant with the Internal Affairs, discovers his wife was having an affair with Kay’s husband, another victim of the crash who was seated next to Dutch’s wife. As an investigative cop, Dutch is driven to know the secrets of the affair and how he could have missed her lies. Kay, a New Hampshire Republican Congressional contestant, would rather leave the past buried, partly for the sake of her daughter’s innocence, and partly for the danger of such knowledge hurting her campaign. However, Dutch’s search pulls her into his search and his life.

They begin their own relationship, which serves to be a support and comfort for both, even though it threatens Kay’s campaign were anyone to find out about it. But Dutch’s obsession over his wife’s affair with Kay’s husband threatens this relationship as well as his integrity as a cop.

I wanted to see “Random Hearts” for nostalgia purposes, having been acquainted with the area used to film the cabin scene (which, incidentally, is in Maryland and not New Hampshire, as the film would suggest). I would be hard pressed to say it was worth it my curiosity.

The relationship turns sinful when Kay, full of intense emotions, turns her passions onto Dutch. “Why not!” Kay cries. “They were going to do it.” After reconciling that moment, they decide to continue in it, which makes for a fair Hollywood love story, but not for Christians. They share a physical relationship based merely on pain and pleasure with no evident need for repentance. Near the end of the movie, after the reporters discover the former spouses' affair, Kay is asked about it and about her relationship with Sergeant Van Den Broeck. “we’re survivors,” she says. Again, a great Hollywood line, but one truly lacking in eternal value. Although the movie shows how damaging an adulterous affair can be, it does not relay any consequences for the post-marital affair.

Other convicting notes of reservation towards this movie include the usual scattered ranks of foul language and misuses of the Lord’s name. A few scenes of violence take place from a job-related case Dutch is actively involved in. Also, there are views of dead bodies from the plane crash. Of a serious note, at the beginning of the movie, Kay’s rival is mocked for his religious beliefs. Kay even exclaims her hope that he says God talks to him so his campaign will suffer.

As far as movie quality, the best word to use would be “boring.” Some critics prefer to call this film “Random Thoughts.” Although the acting, directing, and background scenery are all well done, not much else is offered in this film. The suspense generated from the affair leads to nowhere, the romance leads to nowhere, the action-packed segment of the movie goes somewhere but is such a minuscule part of the film it fails to catch the action goers. Unless you enjoy psychoanalytical studies, this movie even falls short of the word “entertainment.”

On a positive note, when Dutch finally apologizes to Kay for his obsession over his wife’s affair, he confides that he just had to find what he needed to let go. My brother chimed in, “That’s easy—you forgive.” Ah, now that would make a story!

Viewer Comments
“Random Hearts” is a disappointing movie from such a great entertainer as Harrison Ford. One would expect that the proven actor would be more selective. The pre-release hype for the movie billed it as a shocker that would cause husbands, wives, and lovers to question themselves and each other about the integrity of their relationships. In part “Random Hearts” has this effect, but unfortunately, the movie is so excruciatingly long that the poor dialog and un-engaging plot are hardly worth any moral lessons. Do not expect to get out of the theater within the normal two hour time frame. …Objectionable elements in the movie include some offensive language and a sensuous sex scene. The sex scene is not brief enough to merely endure with eyes closed, and is therefore a serious problem for the discerning Christian.

More than this though, the reviewer objects that the crisis of morality in the movie is merely built upon Ford’s jealousy of their supposedly monogamous relationship. The movie’s crisis does not revolve around the sanctity and holiness of marriage. Instead it revolves around modern day selfishness—“She had no right to hurt me like that.” The fact that the movie has no allegiances to the sanctity of marriage is born out in the illicit relationship Ford has with the Congresswoman.

In part it is true that the movie is a challenge to the supposed integrity of marriage relationships. Many people, whether lost or saved, could potentially be awakened by “Random Hearts” to the potential pain of infidelity. In spite of the excruciatingly slow plot and interminable length, my hope for this movie is that many would leave the theaters affirming their commitment to their marriage relationships. Those who cannot do this will likely drive home quietly, hoping they will not be asked the movie’s implicit question—“Have you been faithful to me?
—Dennis Bills, age 29
The plot went nowhere. The movie is billed as somewhat of a thriller, but leaves you bored with Harrison Ford obsessing over his dead wife’s affair. Even the romance lacks chemistry between Ford’s character and the female lead.
—G. Walker
As a major Harrison Ford fan, I had decided that I would risk the “R” rating to see his latest. A waste of money, with the best part being fall scenes near a picturesque cabin near Chesapeake Bay. The movie was not enjoyable to me. I didn’t care for the story, or the ending, and was offended that everyone in the movie seemed to have been participating in extra-marital affairs. My husband’s assessment of the movie was “Weird”. Save your money, and stay home to watch Harrison in “Star Wars.” My Ratings: [2/3]
—A. Hoffman, age 41
Slow. Stiff. Stupid. During what was supposed to be the most romantic scene of the movie, I was laughing out loud because it was so ridiculous and staged. We like Harrison Ford, but we would like him better if we had skipped Random Hearts and just rented The Fugitive, Clear and Present Danger or even Sabrina.
—S. McCabe, age 35
Movie Critics
…treats adultery… as a common occurrence to be accepted …even celebrated for spicing up life with forbidden romance. …political rival is vilified and called “nut case” and “Elmer Fudd” for his religious beliefs and conservative stand on the issues… dozen blasphemous uses of God’s name.
—Plugged In, Focus on the Family
…mopey. Even the action scenes seem half-hearted, as if someone periodically woke up and said, “Oh, yeah, he’s a cop, so we have to bust a few heads.”
—Mike Clark, USA Today
A slow-moving romantic drama that starts with a decent premise and then goes nowhere—not fast—but at a languid and laborious pace, a better title for this cinematic sloth may have been “Random Thoughts.”
—ScreenIt
Tragedy-romance “Random Hearts” done in by auto-pilot performances, distracting subplots, out-of-place emotions. …disappointing mostly because it didn’t have to get this absurd…
—Spliced Online