Playing by Heart

 (602)
7.02h1999R
Four stories intertwine in this all-star drama centering on four women, their men, and the search for love in L.A.
Directors
Willard Carroll
Starring
Sean ConneryAngelina JolieMadeleine Stowe
Genres
ComedyDramaRomance
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Anthony EdwardsGillian AndersonGena RowlandsRyan PhillippeDennis QuaidEllen BurstynJay MohrJon StewartPatricia ClarksonNastassja KinskiApril GraceAlec MapaJeremy SistoMatt MalloyChristian MillsKellie WaymireTim Halligan
Producers
Willard CarrollMeg LibermanThomas L. Wilhite
Studio
MIRAMAX
Rating
R (Restricted)
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

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
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Top reviews from the United States

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
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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
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on September 14, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
In good shape
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we watch it and it was a great movie!
Darius CiscoReviewed in the United States on April 15, 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars
Romance Lives with Talented Cast
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This film is one of the best kept secrets at the video store. Anyone who enjoys a good romantic story must see this movie. This romantic comedy-drama focuses on the relationships of various couples. This could've been just another cute little film, but thanks to the witty, intelligent dialogue and the very talented ensemble cast, it is elevated to so much more. Although some of the story lines were less than compelling, it was great to see veterans actors like Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands take such a modest story line and turn it into something really special. Kudos! Didn't someone say "there are no small roles, only small actors?"
Although all the performances were strong, the stand out performances had to be that of Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillippe. The chemistry between these two young actors was earth shaking. Their screen romance was very touching and endearing. Even though Jolie has the ability to completely dominate a scene, Phillippe, playing his role with subtlety and reserve, was able to hold his own. His performance was so real and moving, that once us men folk can get over the fact that our ladies are swooning over him, we have to admit this dude can act. As for Jolie, I think no one can deny her obvious talent. With this role, like many of her others, she is able to generate so much passion, sensuality, and exuberance. Her larger-than-life persona almost "devours" the film, audience and all. Personally, I enjoyed when Phillippe's character was able to take Jolie's down a couple notches. While I liked the film as a whole, I secretly wanted more screen time for these two actors. Hopefully, soon these two rising stars will be paired again in another picture. Hollywood, you better hop to it while you still can afford them!
Overall, Playing By Heart was a wonderful film with smart dialogue, an excellent cast and a clever ending. This film restored my faith in romance. Well, at least at the movies. If you are not in some small way touched by this picture, I suggest you see your doctor right away. You might not have a pulse!
32 people found this helpful
SebeLov111Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
You Must See
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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
Julie BReviewed in the United States on February 3, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
This movie never gets old for me
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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.
Richard LeeReviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
American Style Love Stories
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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.
MiboReviewed in the United States on July 7, 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars
Unique, Creative, Well Done
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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
Herbert J JurgensenReviewed in the United States on September 6, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A movie that gets put on pause if some one needs to leave the room briefly.
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There will be no one in the house that won't like this film. It's funny, It's coping with real life curve balls and unexpected twists.
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