Lonely Hearts

John Travolta movies are like Christmas- they all sound quite exciting at the beginning, but then, as said Barbarino effort get closer, you realise it ain’t all that, and before you know, you’re wishing it was over already.


Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Scott Caan, Laura Dern

John Travolta movies are like Christmas- they all sound quite exciting at the beginning, but then, as said Barbarino effort get closer, you realise it ain’t all that, and before you know, you’re wishing it was over already.

How many times now have you read the synopsis of a new John Travolta movie that’s in production and thought to yourself ‘Now that could be his [umpteenth] comeback vehicle?’. Yeah, same here. Plenty of times.

When Travolta re-teamed with his “Pulp Fiction” co-star Samuel L.Jackson for John ‘Die Hard’ McTiernan’s “Basic”, I couldn’t have been more giddy – there was no going wrong; When the big guy decided it was time to bring his cooler-than-cool “Get Shorty” character Chili Palmer back for a sequel, “Be Cool” became one helluva anticipated pic, and when the trailer for “Ladder 49” hit theatres, it looked damn fine. Real good. Unfortunately, it, and the previous two films flopped like airless balloons. In fact, everything Travolta has done in the past decade – first last bonafide would be 1997’s “Face/Off” – has been a waste of cinematic space. And they pay him $20 million to take a dump – each and every time.

If we like the sound of the films he’s doing, up until we actually see them, then it’s easy to understand why Travolta picks them. They obviously sound good to him, too. But somewhere between rolling film and cutting scenes, the film’s go awry – and with that, Travolta’s appeal slips like a slug descending down a window. With each move, the bottom is that little bit closer.

So is “Lonely Hearts” going to nudge him closer to that long-awaited “Experts” sequel, or is it finally going to prove to us all that he’s still the legendary, gifted son of a bitch that Quentin Tarantino saw in him when he hired him – and paid him a lowly $140,000! – for “Pulp Fiction”?

Neither. He’ll simply stay put.

Though it is another under whelming Travolta vehicle, with a telemovie script and a blah finale, “Lonely Hearts” is a step back in the right direction for the struggling superstar. It falls somewhere between “Domestic Disturbance” and “Broken Arrow”, so though nothing special, it’s still passable.

Based on a true story, the film stars Travolta as detective Buster Robinson, hot on the trail of a pair of unhinged lovers, Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez (Jared Leto and Salma Hayek), on an interstate murdering spree, in the 50s.

With the help of his partner (James Gandolfini – in his fourth movie with Travolta), Buster, whilst battling his own demons, pieces the clues together to track them down.

The story itself is told too thinly to really captivate an audience – this is the kind of story that might seem better told on TV – but Travolta does seem to be trying here. He’s sleepwalked through most of his previous roles, so it’s good to see Kelly’s beau unleashing something resembling a performance again. Granted, the character he’s playing is the real-life grandfather of the writer, so the pressure was on for him this time. Worked better than a gun to a head.

In addition, James Gandolfini, Salma Hayek and Jared Leto are equally impressive in their underwritten but engaging-enough turns. Hayek, especially, is giving her all here. She’s usually as sweet as pie, so in order for us to swallow her as a screw loose psychopath is something – and we do, to the point where you’re spitting at the screen by film’s end. The only thing that doesn’t work about the casting of Hayek is that the real Beck was a very obese woman – definitely not the beautiful, buxom Latino she’s represented as here.

Better than all the actors though is the production design by Jon Gary Steele. He’s truly recreated the time. It looks marvellous – “Untouchables” good.

Nice slug Travolta, but not quite the knockout we were hoping for.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris