Two interview subjects – the befuddled spouse of a diehard fan and an apathetic Swedish metal-head — cut to the core of the doc An Affair of the Heart‘s biggest deficiencies when they ask: Just who exactly is Rick Springfield? The most obvious answers are the ones that director Sylvia Caminer offers first in her unfocussed and uninsightful documentary. Now a has-been pop star whose biggest claim to fame is writing and performing “Jessie’s Girl,” Springfield still goes on limited tour engagements and enjoys a great bond with his star-struck fans. His devotees tell Caminer and her audience generic but heart-felt tales about their deep connection to Springfield’s music, like how it was a guiding influence for one young fan or inspired a rape victim. Still, An Affair of the Heart‘s focus is so vaguely sketched out that it ultimately could be about any grateful artist who enjoys a modicum of celebrity years after his initial success. For example, Springfield is only teasingly shown talking about his depression, an anxiety that he’s externalized into a tormentor/muse named “Mr. Darkness,” and is rarely interviewed for very long about what his music means to him. His fans are equally poorly defined as they’re never really asked to pinpoint why Springfield’s music affects them so much. An Affair of the Heart is an adequate commercial for Springfield (be sure to buy his autobiography, now on sale!), but it’s no primer for the uninitiated.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 10, 2012