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Category:    Home > Reviews > Detective > Mystery > Drama > Crime > Lonely Hearts (2007)

Lonely Hearts (2007)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C-     Film: B-



Up until about 10-15 years ago, a stigma was attached to any film that went directly to video (now DVD) or was barely released to theaters. At least 90 percent of the time, the stigma held true.


However, given how pathetic movies have generally become in recent years, going directly to DVD or being barely released in theaters isn't necessarily a bad thing anymore.  Sure, a lot of amazingly crappy movies still bypass theaters altogether on their way to DVD debuts, but an amazing amount of irredeemable crap now opens nationwide in theaters and regularly rakes in a ton of money.  In recent months I've reviewed Seraphim Falls, Off the Black and The Last Time, all of which played in a minimal number of theaters before coming to DVD.  All are good films starring big or semi-big names that ended up getting barely released theatrically not because they were bad, but rather because they were deemed too hard a sell for today's audiences, who've overdosed on stupid CGI-fests, needless remakes, obnoxious youth comedies and politically correct hogwash that's an outright lie.  Therefore, going straight to DVD or playing in only a handful of theaters isn't so much a reflection of what's good or bad these days, but more likely a barometer of what won't have mass appeal and which actors and actresses aren't hot enough to open a movie anymore.


The latest film to fall into this category is Lonely Hearts, a grim period crime story that opened on a paltry 24 screens in the spring of 2007 after spending more than a year on the shelf.  Even the star combination of John Travolta, James Gandolfini and Salma Hayek wasn't enough for a major studio to take a chance on distributing it.  That's a shame because as far as period pieces centered around true crime stories go, it's much better than Brian De Palma's tepid The Black Dahlia, which did manage to secure a major studio's backing and a wide release.


Lonely Hearts is based on the 1940s murders committed by Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck, both of whom started out as grifters conning members of the opposite sex through the personal ads.  When they met through a personal ad, the two con artists became lovers and teamed up to act as brother and sister in order to con various lonely women, leading to several homicides.  Their twisted relationship is also the subject of The Honeymoon Killers (1970), a more in-depth examination of the infamous pair which stars Tony Lo Bianco and Shirley Stoler.


Lonely Hearts alternates between the deranged couple, balding lothario Fernandez (Jared Leto) and the insanely jealous Beck (Hayek), and the two Long Island cops (Travolta and Gandolfini) investigating one of their crimes.


The storyline following Fernandez and Beck's cross-country crime spree ends up being a lot more absorbing than the more standard one about the cops.  All the stuff thrown in about the Travolta character's personal life feels extraneous, existing simply to pad the role of the biggest name in the cast.  Still, it's a good, not great, movie that benefits from nice period detail and some strong performances (especially Hayek and Leto), even if the real-life Beck was a heavyset, homely mess not anywhere near as attractive as Hayek. 


Sony's DVD of Lonely Hearts presents the film in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.  The only special features are a 10 minute making-of featurette of Lonely Hearts and trailers for several other Sony releases.



-   Chuck O'Leary


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