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'Lonely Hearts'

Slipped into release with an ominous lack of fanfare, this star-studded noir thriller is a halfhearted attempt to recast The Honeymoon Killers and Deep Crimson, both of which were based on the 1940s case of a couple who preyed on and murdered lonely women. Lonely Hearts is more humdrum than terrible, in large measure because writer-director Todd Robinson drains the focus from the killer couple—rendered with panache and self-amused flourish by Salma Hayek and Jared Leto—and places it on Elmer C. Robinson, the damaged but dull policeman who's on their trail, played in a sepulchral monotone by jowly John Travolta, as his more worldly sidekick James Gandolfini superfluously narrates. Todd Robinson is the grandson of the real-life Elmer, which may be why the movie, shot in trite period sepia and littered with the usual blood-red fingernails, never fully commits to the heartlessness of the genre as Arthur Penn did in Bonnie and Clyde. Robinson insists on saddling his prize psychos with motives, and evil invariably loses its pizzazz when it's explained away. Neither funny nor persuasively tragic, Lonely Hearts ends up merely unpleasant in its fixation with the hydraulics of orgasms and electric chairs.


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