Playing by Heart

Four stories intertwine in this all-star drama centering on four women, their men, and the search for love in L.A.
Willard Carroll
Sean ConneryAngelina JolieMadeleine Stowe
English [CC]
Audio languages
Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 48 hours to finish once started.
Add to Watchlist
Add to
By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms. Sold by Services LLC.
Write review

More details

Supporting actors
Anthony EdwardsGillian AndersonGena RowlandsRyan PhillippeDennis QuaidEllen BurstynJay MohrJon StewartPatricia ClarksonNastassja KinskiApril GraceAlec MapaJeremy SistoMatt MalloyChristian MillsKellie WaymireTim Halligan
Willard CarrollMeg LibermanThomas L. Wilhite
R (Restricted)
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Available to watch on supported devices


4.6 out of 5 stars

602 global ratings

  1. 80% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 8% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
Sorted by:

Top reviews from the United States

SebeLov111Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
You Must See
Verified purchase
Once again I am Angelina Jolie in this movie no doubt. This is a must see movie. This is my all time number one favorite movie. This movie has a storyline for people who are 20 and in college to senior citizens. There is something in this movie for everyone. There are sensitive topics so I wouldn’t let anyone under a certain age watch this. This movie shows you that not all love stories are perfect but this movie will show you without the thorns there is no rose! I hope you enjoy! Check out the cast. Need I say more?
One person found this helpful
Richard LeeReviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
American Style Love Stories
Verified purchase
The is a movie about long-term and beginning ways that men and women love each other, in America. I say "in America" because it struck me that in many other countries marriage could be quite different; example, arranged marriages. I have been around for quite a while, and all of the stories reminded me of my relationships. I guess a movie is very successful if it arouses a lot of emotion in the person watching.
The cast was incredible, including many of the most desirable men and women of that time. The acting was exceptional and felt realistic. You cared about them. In a few scenes, unusual things happened, but I guess not too unlikely. I sometimes get annoyed when people act very irrationally, but that's life.
E.J.Reviewed in the United States on September 28, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Playing by Heart - A True Hidden Gem!
Verified purchase
One of my favorite movies that most people have never heard of!

This is a sweet but edgy movie that ties together multiple relationships.

The cast is beyond stellar: Angelina Jolie, Ryan Phillippe, Sean Connery, Gena Rowland's, Jon Stewart (yes, that Jon Stewart), Gillian Anderson, Madeline Stowe, & Dennis Quade just to name a few. I'm sure after looking at the cast you're wondering, how have I never heard of this movie?

This movie is also incredible quotable (which makes it so fun to rewatch) - some gems... "My mind has an endless capacity for useless information." "I'll have a martini extra dry. 3 olives not 2 - nutritional value. "

It's a bit 90's, but still holds up rather well. It's worth taking a chance on this one just for the cast alone!
9 people found this helpful
SoniaReviewed in the United States on October 12, 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars
Stellar Cast and Poignant storylines...You'll fall in love
Verified purchase
If I could meet a lump collective of famous people, a great place to start would be the cast of Playing By Heart. I don't remember hearing "boo" about this movie. Nada, nuttin, zilch. Every single character is portrayed by a famous actor. And quite well I might add, I really enjoyed the depth brought to each performance.
Playing By Heart is a relationship movie. It's also billed as a romantic comedy on the video jacket. I beg to differ. It's a drama if I've ever seen one. Playing By Heart deals with some very complex relationship issues in a direct, honest manner. The intensity of the relationship formats is engrossing.
The movie is set up in a variety of pairings, not all of which are romantically linked. The relationships that are romantic, represent a wide spectrum of ages, and stages in such a relationship.
We meet Hannah (Gena Rowlands) and Paul (Sean Connery). They've been married forty years. Their relationship is in a state of flux almost from the very start of the movie. Their story is evidence that, even after all those years of marriage, there are things to discover about your spouse. The notion that Paul might still be carrying a torch for an old flame is a bone of contention between he and Hannah. One example of their combativeness is when Paul remarks, "It's been almost twenty-four hours since we traded barbs. We don't want to get rusty do we?"
Then there's Joan (Angelina Jolie) and Keenan (Ryan Phillippe). They are the young, wild twenty-somethings who discover each other in the L.A. club scene. Keenan is withdrawn and anti-social where Joan is boisterous and the poster child for high drama, her every life event intensely scrutinized for anyone who will listen. Joan keeps doing her level best to work her way into Keenan's life while he puts forth the same effort pushing her away. At one point, he finally tells her, "This isn't anything. This will never be anything." Meredith (Gillian Anderson), on the other hand, pushes men away because of a long history of being burned in relationships, or as she puts it, "scalded repeatedly". She is a theatre director who has been keeping herself consumed with work, but when she pulls a bookshelf down on herself at the library, an architect named Trent uses the opportunity to ask her out on a date.
He maintains that, "I'm not just asking you out to dinner as a preemptive strike against litigation." Despite her steadfastness to the contrary, she accepts, saying, "Anyone who can say preemptive strike against litigation with a straight face deserves a dinner companion."
Theirs becomes a rollercoaster relationship of her pushing him away and him not accepting her attempts to shut him out. Meredith makes some interesting observations about the dating process that anyone who is dating or has ever dated may find refreshingly honest. So much of the dating process is calculated artificiality. She even admits to Trent, that before their first date, she had been on the phone with her sister coming up with a psychological profile for him.
Perhaps the most intense relationship in the movie is a mother-son pairing. Mildred (Ellen Burstyn) is the mother to a gay son, Mark (Jay Mohr). He is in the hospital dying of, it is assumed, AIDS. His final wishes are to start their relationship over, being honest with each other and sharing some of their thoughts with each other. She, and the rest of Mark's family, had been in denial about his being gay, and he doesn't want his last days to be full of her denial about his dying. Some powerful and moving scenes between them.
As a mother with sons, the most moving moment was when he asked her to tell him a story. He wants to hear the last part of "Goodnight Moon". My boys have this book. We read it quite often. The thought of speaking those words to one of them as they lay dying in my arms tore through my heart. She also reflects on the time she was pregnant with him. These are instances that all you moms out there will be hard-pressed not to have tears streaming down your cheeks.
Among the other characters are Gracie (Madeleine Stowe) and Roger (Anthony Edwards), who are both married and having an affair. There is also Hugh (Dennis Quaid), who spends his nights going from bar to bar, telling tall tales of woe to any woman who will listen to him. Their relationships are evidence of the understanding one tries to have about what they are doing and why.
Why do some people love each other? How does it happen? Joan considers something a friend had told her once. "Talking about love is like dancing about architecture." She maintains that, however true that statement is, she's still going to try to talk about love anyway. On the flip side, Paul recalls the advice Joan had given their children about falling in love. "The wonderful thing about falling in love is you learn everything about that person and so quickly. And if it's true love, then you start to see yourself through their eyes. And it brings out the best in you. It's almost as if you're falling in love with yourself."
Playing By Heart is honest and genuine. Some of the honesty manifests itself in some big-time swearing and sexual innuendo, hence the "R" rating. It's a drama in the sense that relationships are dramas with light-hearted comedic moments to equal the playing field. It's about falling in love. It's about not wanting to fall in love but falling in love anyway.
20 people found this helpful
MiboReviewed in the United States on July 7, 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars
Unique, Creative, Well Done
Verified purchase
While this movie wasn't deep-arguably that is-it was creative, unique, and quite realistic. If you pay close attention to the dialogue it can be predictable especially if you like to figure things out before they happen. Willard Carroll left just enough room to make you wonder and then certain revelations-unless you're out of it-are expected and not surprising. The characters were believable and the acting by the entire cast was nothing short of sensational.

If you get confused easily, stick it out, comes together very nicely in the end.

Side note-two things:

1. How excellent that Gillian Anderson had the ability to show range. Don't get me wrong, love Dana Scully, I do, however, she is an unsung hero when it comes to this art. (See her in Masterpiece Theater's Bleak House.)

2. It is in my opinion that most comedians stick to comedy and there are but a few when they transition or give drama a try do an excellent job. Having said that hats off to Jon Stewart. His performance was more than respectable.
2 people found this helpful
Julie BReviewed in the United States on February 3, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
This movie never gets old for me
Verified purchase
This is one of the very few movies I enjoy watching over and over. It holds up as well as when I first saw it years ago. Great ensemble cast and good storylines. The seemingly individual stories are related but you aren't clued in until the end.
zooniReviewed in the United States on March 30, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
Open Your Heart
Verified purchase
I actually worked on this movie as a movie extra and I'm actually IN IT. Aside from that, Playing By Heart is a good love and life film that explores relationships and personality types. My favourite sequences are those with Angelina Jolie's character, I just adore Angelina, and the sequences with Gillian Anderson and Jon Stewart are also memorable. I related the best with those characters I mentioned. I also thought Jay Moher did a good job playing a character who is dying of aids. As for the rest of the movie, I like the way Playing By Heart was filmed and I was also interested in the complex stories, making this one a winner in my book.
Carolyn WrightReviewed in the United States on December 21, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
Dynamic cast, wonderful stories all
Verified purchase
I was introduced to Angelina Jolie in this film and was hooked. She's fabulous as the youngest daughter of Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands. Marital complications, personal apprehensions and wonderfully HUGE dogs and a one-eyed cat add to this quilt of family members' lives that segway through beautifully utilized sunrises and sunsets w/John Barry's flowing music. Madeline Stowe, Dennis Quaid, Jon Stewart, and several other castmembers round out a complex group of players dealing with careers, relationships and personal insecurities. This is a keeper.

PS. Remember this, the next time you run for an elevator ;)
One person found this helpful
See all reviews