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Movie Review

Washington, D.C., police officer Dutch Van Den Broeck and Republican Congressional hopeful Kay Chandler have their lives changed forever when the plane carrying both of their spouses crashes into the Chesapeake Bay. As it turns out, the dead man and woman had been carrying on an adulterous affair and were on their way to Miami for a fling. Dutch, an obsessive investigator, must know more about the fatal liaison. Kay, on the other hand, would rather not know the sordid details, partly to protect her teenage daughter and partly to protect her run for Congress. In his quest for knowledge, Dutch hounds Kay until the pair turn their mutual betrayal into a convenient attraction to each other that threatens to make headlines any budding politician would be better off without. Meanwhile, Dutch is on the trail of a crooked cop as part of his 9-to-5.

Positive Elements: The beautiful fall foliage is a sight to behold. Also, Kay and her teenage daughter enjoy a tender, loving relationship as evidenced by Kay's desire to keep her out of the political spotlight and preserve the girl's positive memories of her dad by not disclosing information about his extramarital rendezvous. She begins to question whether or not she can continue to manipulate the truth in order to get elected ("I think I'm losing what it takes to lie"). Dutch doggedly pursues a police officer who murdered a witness, even though it may cost him his job.

Spiritual Content: The deceased adulterers are honored with church funerals which involve scripture reading and hymns. Unfortunately, Kay's political rival is vilified and called "nut case" and "Elmer Fudd" for his religious beliefs and conservative stand on the issues (Kay says she hopes he tells people he talks to God so that his campaign will suffer).

Sexual Content: It is implied that Dutch and his wife have sex the morning before her fateful flight. There's a shot of women in a dressing room clad in underwear, as well as a scene showing clubbers in the midst of steamy Latin dancing. Besides talk of Kay's husband having multiple mistresses (including her best friend), the only on-screen sexual activity occurs between Kay and Dutch on two occasions. First, they engage in impulsive kissing and pawing in a parked car. Later, she drives to his remote cabin in the woods for an overnight romp in which these two unmarried people have sex (the camera closes in on them undressing one another, then cuts to the couple lying beneath the sheets after the fact). Much of the film's discussion of adultery treats it as a common occurrence to be accepted and endured—in one case, even celebrated for spicing up life with forbidden romance. Before feeling obliged to share her indiscretions, Wendy says, "Hey, c'mon; it's only adultery," and tells Kay nobody cares about it anymore. She is quickly proven wrong when her confession costs her a friend. Elsewhere in the film, individuals are similarly devastated by revelations of unfaithfulness.

Violent Content: Dutch is shot and sent to the hospital. A teenage girl is arrested for having a gun in her school locker. A man's bloodied body is found in a trash dumpster. Dutch and the dirty officer he's tracking get into a brawl in a bowling alley. Following the plane crash, submerged victims are shown still belted into their seats. Airline officials parade foreboding body bags past next of kin who must identify their loved ones.

Crude or Profane Language: Several slang expressions for intercourse are punctuated with a single f-word (when Kay uses it for impact with Dutch, he senses her discomfort and replies, "If you don't like that word, don't use it"). Common profanities include nearly a dozen blasphemous uses of God's name.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Social drinking is common (beer, wine, mixed drinks), as is consuming alcohol in times of stress.

Other Negative Elements: After their night of passion, Dutch asks Kay the morbidly honest question, "Are you sorry the plane went down?"—in essence, wanting to know if it was worth the disaster to know the truth about her philandering husband and find comfort in his arms.

Summary: This may be the film that inspires concession stands across America to start selling No-Doze. There's little or no suspense in this plodding drama. We know from the start about the affair between Dutch and Kay's unfaithful spouses, and the details uncovered in the final 2 hours and 10 minutes provide little additional info. We even know who the crooked cop is from the start. The only questions are 1) Will Dutch get his man? 2) Will Kay win the election? and 3) Will Dutch and Kay end up together? And frankly, I had a hard time caring. Hip earring notwithstanding, Harrison Ford has never looked more tired or perpetually annoyed in a film. I realize Dutch has just lost his wife and learned she was cheating on him, but his character is unbearably sullen. Meanwhile, Thomas has followed up her turn opposite Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer with another character tormented over marital loyalty and forbidden passions. It gave me an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu. On the MPAA ratings scale, Random Hearts qualifies as a soft R for mature subject matter. While not extreme, foul language, alcohol use, violence and sexual situations (led by mixed messages about adultery and premarital sex) will present problems for discerning viewers.

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Harrison Ford as Sgt. Dutch Van Den Broeck; Kristin Scott Thomas as Kay Chandler; Charles S. Dutton as Alcee; Bonnie Hunt as Wendy; Sydney Pollack as Carl Broman


Sydney Pollack ( )




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Bob Smithouser

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