With thousands, perhaps millions, of scripts flying around Hollywood for a script to be produced there needs to be an ingenious twist. Playing By Heart has one of these ingenious twist to it. If I reveal it, it’ll spoil the film.
Playing By Heart starts off spinning threads of stories with many different characters. Unlike the film I saw last week, The Thin Red Line, where too many characters killed the film, Playing By Heart uses the abundant amount of characters to draw us in. At its heart, the movie is a series of blossoming relationships. The film focuses on the stories of four women known only by their first names. Meredith (Gillian Anderson), Joan (Angelina Jolie), Gracie (Madeleine Stowe), and Hannah (Gena Rowlands) are the women that the story focuses on.
Meredith is being pursued by an architect, Trent (Jon Stewart). Joan is pursuing a man that she met at a dance club, Keenan (Ryan Phillippe). Gracie is having an affair with a man (Anthony Edwards). And Hannah is trying to straighten up a marriage with her husband of 40 years, Paul (Sean Connery). There is also a story line about a dying man (Jay Mohr) and his reconciling with his mother.
What I like about the script by Willard Carroll is that it is able to keep us interested in almost all of these stories and he does it in such a way that we are rewarded at the end of the film. Sure, a bit of it is quite predictable, but that was part of the fun of watching this film. There is one story line that didn’t really fit well, or was not as interesting as it could have been, and that was Gracie’s story line. But, that is a small complaint about a well-written script. Kudos to Carroll for putting together a fun script. Carroll also takes up the directing duties with Playing By Heart and does well at it also.
The performances to look for, and there are lots because of the ensemble cast, are Gillian Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Gena Rowlands, and Sean Connery. It was nice to see Anderson do something substantial that has nothing to do with aliens or government conspiracies. I love her as Agent Scully, but it is great to see Anderson expanding her horizons and taking other roles. Jolie does well, she has almost the same role as she did in Hackers, but this time around the role is softer and requires more emotion. Jolie handles it well. Rowlands who was the standout performance in Hope Floats turns in a wonderful performance in Playing By Heart. And Connery, who seems to be doing a lot more low profile roles, is marvelous in this film. It was disappointing to see him in the awful Avengers and this role is more than enough to help me forget about his performance in Avengers.
Playing By Heart is one of those low profile films that get released without a lot of push from the studios and may get lost in the shuffle. But, I enjoyed the film immensely and left the theatre with a smile. Don’t Miss Playing By Heart in the theatres. And let me know if by the end of the film you have all the threads connected. I was able to guess most of them, but missed on big one.