Reviewed by: Deanna Marquart
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!