Random Hearts

on October 08, 1999 by Annlee Ellingson
   Misleadingly billed as a thriller, this Sydney Pollack romance is less about the discovery of an adulterous affair than the havoc it wreaks on those left behind. Dutch Van Den Broeck (Harrison Ford) and Kay Chandler (Kristen Scott Thomas) are an internal affairs investigator and an incumbent congresswoman who discover that their respective spouses have been involved in an illicit relationship when their weekend-getaway flight ends up in the ocean. While Dutch uses his detective skills to dig up the past, Kay does her best to let sleeping dogs lie. Meanwhile, the spurned spouses spark a fast and furious affair of their own.
   But it's too fast and furious. Though remarkable circumstances bring these two together, it's not clear why their first desperate sexual encounter later leads to a tender romance, and Kay's willingness to sacrifice her pending campaign for a fling with a stranger becomes clear only when she explains to Dutch and the audience that "Nobody knows who I am anymore." Her lover's response is indicative of the pedestrian dialogue that plagues the whole script: "I know you."
   When Dutch isn't endangering Kay's career, he's ruthlessly investigating a dirty cop, suffering a suspended license due to his rabidity. This completely unrelated supporting storyline intersects violently with the romance at the end but nonetheless could have been left out all together. Meanwhile, Kay's entire campaign merely provides a setting in which the two furtively interact, and the effects of their relationship on her campaign are left to the imagination.
   Pollack does succeed in other areas where he leaves out information. For example, the audience doesn't need to actually see the affair or the moment that Kay tells her daughter that her father's dead. But on the whole, he leaves too many unanswered questions, leaving the biggest ambiguity for the parting scene. Starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas. Directed by Sydney Pollack. Written by Kurt Luedtke. Produced by Sydney Pollack, Marykay Powell and Ray Stark. A Columbia release. Romance. Rated R for language and sexuality. Running time: 131 min
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