Year 7, Day 237 - 8/25/15 - Movie #2,131
BEFORE: I hate to dip into the romance pool again, because I don't want to run out come February, but I need the linking - James Belushi carries over from "The Pebble and the Penguin". Already this summer I watched "Moulin Rouge" and "Down By Love", and in any other year I would have saved them for the Valentine's chain. I'll have to search the listings for some more love-oriented films over the holiday break.
THE PLOT: A man who falls in love with the woman who received his wife's heart must decide which woman it is who holds his heart.
AFTER: Series of contrivances: 1) the film follows two people, a man whose wife dies in a car accident, and a woman in need of a heart transplant - so when the heart goes from there to there, it just happens to travel between the people we're already invested in, then 2) the donor's husband and the recipient happen to meet, and fall for each other, and 3) through the biggest contrivance of all, they later find out about the connection they have. This happens via a letter that the heart recipient wrote to her donor's family, which she happens to find in his possession.
The film never explains the letter, or lets the audience know its contents, and we have to bring our own knowledge to the film that this sort of letter is usually written anonymously, because God forbid the film take a minute to mention that fact. By failing to mention it, one might easily mistakenly presume that she knows the name of the donor, and he read the letter and knows the name of the recipient, so how come they don't recognize each other's names when they meet later on? Really, would it have killed them to show her writing the letter, or getting instructions from a hospital staffer about being careful not to sign her name?
You have to go back to ancient Roman or Egyptian civilizations to learn where the human heart first became a symbol of love and emotions - but since then, we've learned that it's just a part of the circulatory system, and it's probably more accurate to say that love happens in our brains. But the symbolism has persisted for some reason, even though it's not supported by the facts - kind of how like we still say that the sun rises and sets, when it really just stays in one place while the Earth rotates. (I can change people's perceptions one at a time, but I doubt we'll be seeing brain-shaped Valentine's Day cards or cakes any time soon.)
To its credit, the film doesn't get all gooey after the reveal, or treat the heart like it is the working seat of emotion, because that would have been a very silly direction to go. Suggesting that she fell in love with him because of some residual feeling in the heart she got would be like expecting someone with a corneal transplant to be able to recognize people that the donor knew by sight.
Nor does the film get all caught up in the odds against the situation, which would imply kismet or karma or fate or some divine providence, and this would have been a silly direction too. I mean, the best you can do with that is have the characters say, "Wow, what an amazing coincidence!" and that's something of a story dead-end also.
But without going in these directions, what to do after the reveal? It seems like they were left with making every character sit down and look overwhelmed, while discussing how overwhelming the situation seemed. But having everyone stare into space while contemplating the meaning of it all seems like a cop-out, I need to see more in a story.
Oh, sure, we get to see him make good on his promise to his dead wife, so the gorillas at the zoo get a new habitat. But that seems a bit disconnected and off-topic. There used to be a Showtime series called "Red Shoe Diaries", in which David Duchovny appeared in each week's framing elements, with a dog, reading an anonymous letter he got in response to a classified ad asking people for their stories of lost love or erotic encounters. Duchovny's career was red-hot at the time, so I think women might have tuned in to see him, but he was never involved in the love-making scenes, so I'm betting they were frequently disappointed.
This film sort of feels like a lost episode from that series, we've got the dog and the anonymous letter and Duchovny staring into space, wondering how people find each other and what it all means. But at least his character got to be in the relationship this time, and not just read about it.
NITPICK POINT: An Irish Italian restaurant? Sure, because everyone wants their lasagna to come with a side of cabbage. You people in Chicago are so weird. Like, you don't need to put pickles AND relish on your hot dogs, one of those would be plenty. And why celery salt?
Also starring David Duchovny (last seen in "The X-Files: I Want to Believe"), Minnie Driver (last seen in "Circle of Friends"), Carroll O'Connor (last seen in "Kelly's Heroes"), Bonnie Hunt (last seen in "Random Hearts"), Robert Loggia (last seen in "Somebody Up There Likes Me"), David Alan Grier (last seen in "Bewitched"), Joely Richardson (last seen in "The Patriot"), Eddie Jones, Brian Howe, Tom Virtue (last seen in "Hitchcock"), with a cameo from Don Lake (last seen in "Grudge Match").
RATING: 4 out of 10 sizable donations