Sentimental Journeys


Mildly more acidic than your average middle – aged tragi – romance, Sydney Pollack’s randomly titled Random Hearts almost shoots itself in the Bruno Magli. As a D.C. cop who in one bad day finds out that his wife died in a plane crash and was cheating on him (her lover, Peter Coyote, was also on the plane, which makes it a good day, too), Harrison Ford spends most of the film wearing the frown of the betrayed. Even as the tinkly piano music and misty gazes from costar Kristin Scott Thomas (Coyote’s wife) tell us romance is afoot, Ford is hunting down secret love-nest keys and seething as if terrorists have besieged the White House again. The film has all the
Hollywood – romance trappings — naked affluence, glamorous/rugged professions (she’s a Republican congresswoman, he’s a detective), misunderstanding friends offering misguided advice, a log cabin idyll. The only drama is in how long it’ll take Ford to forget the dead tramp and start humming along with the politician, who’s ingenuous enough to gasp, “My God, you people!” when her own manager suggests a post-trauma public appearance for her teenage daughter.

Look past the run-amok Stoli placements if you can, at least to the surprising presence of an earring in Ford’s leathery left lobe, and the chilly ID – the – body scene, done via grim video monitors. Color – coded in Hillary tones, Scott Thomas is a cool glass of creme de menthe beside Ford, who’s more like a moldy pillow with gastritis. But everyone in the film is a walking cliché (Bonnie Hunt as the mushy friend, etc.); even the manipulative opportunities afforded by dead spouses are neglected.

**On the other hand, Jose Luis Garci’s The Grandfather is modest, sentimental lint whose every conversation runs on three times as long as necessary. The Miramax scouts are masters at plunging into international theaters and returning with undistinguished treacle, and Garci’s film is duller than most. Here, a crotchety old aristocrat (Fernando Fernan-Gomez, resembling W.C. Fields with a Whitman beard) in turn-of-the-century Spain battles with his imperious (and widowed) daughter-in-law (Cayetana Guillen Cuervo) to uncover which of his young granddaughters is actually blood kin. Not only is the dialogue endless, it’s horribly post-dubbed (creepily, the girls are voiced by mature-sounding women). Zamoran landscapes notwithstanding, it’s like driving behind a 15 mph geezer on a one-way street.