Playing By Heart [DVD] 
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Written and directed by Willard Carroll, this romantic drama focuses on the lives and loves of a seemingly disparate group of Los Angelinos. Paul (Sean Connery) and Hannah (Gena Rowlands) have been married for forty years, and are coming to terms with a recent diagnosis which identified him as having a brain tumour. Meredith (Gillian Anderson) is being romantically pursued by the madcap Trent (Jon Stewart), whilst twentysomething clubbers Joan (Angelina Jolie) and Keenan (Ryan Phillippe), are trying to find love in a scene that is ravaged by drugs and AIDS.
Playing by Heart is an amiably amorphous comedy-drama about a myriad of articulate and witty people pondering the meaning of love. It was originally titled Dancing About Architecture, since, as one of the lovelorn puts it in trying to explain the elusive nature of desire, "Talking about love is like dancing about architecture". However, with the way the characters in Willard Carroll's film talk, it sounds like they could dance a samba around Frank Lloyd Wright. This undiscovered gem doesn't have a particular destination in mind, as it weaves in and out of the stories of its high-profile ensemble, but it does offer some hilarious, sharp dialogue and quiet surprises.
Carroll focuses his film on four couples, all in one way or another battling with the problems of relationships, ranging from long-marrieds (Gena Rowlands and Sean Connery) to Gen-X club-hoppers (Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillippe). Ostensibly, part of the film is invested in the mystery of how all these characters are interrelated, but keen viewers will be able to discern the connections among them all. It's the uniformly excellent performances, though, that make Playing by Heart compulsively watchable. Most striking, surprisingly enough, are Jolie and Phillippe, the youngest members of the cast who reveal heretofore hidden depths of talent. Jolie in particular increases her already-soaring stock as an actress. Equally impressive are Gillian Anderson and Jon Stewart, who transcend their yuppie personas in their awkward enactment of the timeless dating rituals. Other cast members, including Dennis Quaid, Anthony Edwards, Ellen Burstyn, Jay Mohr and the always-luminous Madeleine Stowe, are quite good, though saddled with story lines that are occasionally less than compelling. The only complaint you'll have is that once everyone's connections are revealed, you'll wish this cast had more of an opportunity to interact. The journey toward the film's bittersweet end, however, is marvellous in and of itself. --Mark Englehart, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
Give this film a go, I think that you will be pleasantly suprised! The DVD includes all the usual extras and wil;l become an essential part of your collection.
It's not though; the film for casual watching and to really get anything from the film a fair amount of concentration is essential. Definitely not the movie for everyone you will have few laugh-out-loud moments but should leave the cinema touched and amused.
A solid 5 star movie overall some truly entertaining twists make this well worth your time.
Quite how Mr Carroll gets from the noneity of 'The Runestone' starring no one of any worth to probably the best cast ever assembled for a 90s movie really takes your breath away. The dialogue is fun and frantic where it needs to be, but always measured, perceptive and cohesive, the direction unfussy, and the film looks beautiful. Sean Connery's best movie in ages and his teaming with Gena Rowlands is pitched so prefectly, you can't think of them as anything other than married and for a good many years. Gillian Anderson is wonderful too, but it's the excellent and smoking hot Ryan Phillipe who deserves the awards and attention for his star-making turn as a shyest, sweetest hunk ever to go dancing on his own in the LA club scene.Read more ›
The older generation are represented by Paul (Sean Connery) and Hannah (Gena Rowlands) squabbling about a love affair Paul had twenty five years ago as they approach their fortieth wedding anniversary. It is a pleasure to see Connery acting a part and not playing himself as so often happens.
Two of the couples Joan (Jolie) and Keenan (Phillip), Meredith (Anderson) and Trent (Stewart) are trying to recover from the trauma of failed relationships, Gracie (Stowe) and Roger (Edwards) are cheating on each other, and mother love comes in the form of Mildred (Burstyn) whose gay son Mark (Mohr) is dying of AIDs. There are also other occasional characters that slightly confuse the plot with other problems.
This is a well acted, well directed film, moving and warmly involving, and arriving at a feel good but not sentimental ending that makes for a very satisfying evenings viewing.
This movie is intelligent, funny, heart warming but it will also break your heart.
Lots of great actors and great perfomances. I liked it and I recommend it!
it is a dramatic comedy about the many faces of love, consisting of six seemingly unrelated tales about men and women, finding each other, losing each other and discovering things and secrets about themselves and others.
The movie has a well-acted gallery of characters, which makes it hard to dislike any of them.
Paul(Sean Connery) and Hanna (Gena Rowlands)is a long-married couple who are avoiding dealing with the recent discovery that Paul has an inoperable brain-tumour. Instead of facing the situation, they carry on a squabble over a romance Paul had 25 years earlier.
Mildred (Ellen Burstyn) is an attractive widow with a gay son, Mark (Jay Mohr). Mark has AIDS and is in the hospital, dying.
Gracie (Madeleine Stowe) is married, but having an affair with the priest, Roger (Anthony Edwards), for her the relationship is only physical, but for him it means something more.
Trent (Jon Stewart) is in love with Meredith (Gillian Anderson) but she rejects him at first, because she has a relationship-phobia, and believes he is "too good to be true".
Joan (Angelina Jolie) is a brashly aggressive aspiring actress with alcohol problems, who puts the moves on Keenan (Ryan Philippe) a solitary young man she meets in a disco, he rebuffs her advances but they develop a special friendship, and later he confesses that he has got AIDS.
Hugh (Dennis Quaid)is a haunted barfly who goes from club to club regaling sympathetic strangers with a different sob story in every watering whole.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A story about love and how hard it can be to let it in, and actually allow your self to be happy.Published 2 months ago by Peter Oscarson
This movie is a slow burn. You have all this classy actors who apparently play random parts and then it all comes together beautifully.Published 16 months ago by Peter Berger