Pretty good movie overall. First half was nothing special but it got better as it went along.
it is finally so absorbing because it plays like a lyrical road odyssey that’s also a detective story.
Funny, strange, confrontational and subversive, this is one of the most interesting experiences you'll have at the cinema this year.
This is a must-see and one of the best documentaries - and films - of this year.
The global success and Oscar nominations (and wins) for "L.A. Confidential" ('97) put the neo-noir / crime thriller genre back on the map in terms of Hollywood big productions, featuring major stars and established directors, and several films succeeded, such as "The Black Dahlia" and "Hollywoodland" (both from '06), based on real life cases of infamous murder, some unsolved to this days."Lonely Hearts" from the very same year, tells the real life story of Raymond Martinez Fernandez (played by Jared Leto) and Martha Beck (played by Salma Hayek), the notorious "Lonely Hearts Killers", a couple that during the 40's conned several wealthy widows, by placing ads in magazines, pretending to be brother and sister.
As the delusional and sociopath Martha became more possessive towards Raymond, she starts killing his fiancees, afraid that he could fell in love with one of their unsuspecting victims.
Det. Elmer Robinson (John Travolta), a newly widower and his partner, Det. Charles Hilderbrandt (James Gandolfini) with the help of Det. Reilly (Scott Caan), are tasked to investigate the case...Screenwriter & documentary director, Todd Robinson, the real life grandson of Det. Elmer Robinson, made here his screen debut directing a theatrical released motion picture, which also penned the screenplay due to his emotional connection to the real life case, via his own grandfather, who told him curiosities about it since his early age.Robinson made good use of his Art Department: all the props; the sets' decoration; the hairstyles and costumes; the cars and the planes, are very faithful invoking the 40's Era and the movie looks and feels it visually. For its medium budget it's a hit.The screenplay could have been better handled, way too much screentime was given to the pair of detectives and their own private lifes, instead of focusing it more on the killers, enhancing the couple's wicked behavior and their descent into doom.
The added humor beetween Gandolfini and Scott Caan's characters always picking on each other, is somewhat funny at the beginning, but ultimately, repetitive and unnecessary.The cinematography is only appropriate as so is the direction, it have a certain TV feeling to it, maybe due to the budgetary reasons, it lacks wide shots and the violence is also toned down, with the noble exception of one well staged sordid scene involving the infamous couple and Alice Krige's character.The editing obviously suffered from scenes left out in the cutting room floor, maybe to shorten the movie to be more audience friendly, but that affects the storytelling with several breaks in the narrative and an anti-climatic (not so) grand finale.John Travolta is okay in the lead role of Elmer Robinson, with a good supporting turn from the late great James Gandolfini, even if his character was seriously underdeveloped, with both sharing good on-screen chemistry, proved earlier in "Get Shorty" ('95).
Scott Caan is in training mode for his future role of Danny Williams in the hit TV show, "Hawaii Five-0" and Laura Dern did her best out of a pointless character, Travolta's colleague at the Force and, secretly, his mistress.
Jared Leto as Ray Fernandez is over the top hammy, too cartoon-ish for a movie like this, almost shading his ridiculous performance in "Panic Room" ('02), but Salma Hayek saves the movie in the acting department, offering a commited performance as the wicked Martha Beck, had the movie being better she could have possibly been a contender for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.In short, "Lonely Hearts" deserves, at least, a watch for completists of neo-noir, "killers on the run" and period pieces, it's a kind of hybrid beetween "Badlands" & "The Black Dahlia" and even if it isn't as good as the previous adaptation of this story to the big screen, "The Honeymoon Killers" ('70), which was more faithful to the real life case and more focused on the couple, it have Salma in one of her best performances to date and some good cinematic moments...
Based on the true story, two homicide detectives track Martha Beck and Raymond Martinez Fernandez, a murderous pair known as the "Lonely Hearts Killers" who lured their victims through the personals. Lonely Hearts stars John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, James Gandolfini, Scott Caan and Laura Dern. This film received better reviews than i expected it to and currently has 6.5/10 on IMDb and 60% on Metacritic unfortunately it got a 5.6/10 and a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes and i do understand some of it's flaws that it might had for example i felt that the chemistry between Laura Dern and John Travolta could have been better but on the same time it wasn't that bad either but i think that the best part of the movie was Leto and Hayek and their chemistry was good unlike some other reviewers said and it shows how mad they both were. The performances from all the leads were good with Salma Hayek and Jared Leto stealing the show for the most part. The film could have done some things better like the chemistry between Dern and Travolta or even James Gandolfini's character that was kinda forgettable and had zero character development but for the most part the film had good performances and a good amount of Drama around it. (9/10)
The exploits of a murderous couple who, in the late 1940s, became known as "The Lonely Hearts Killers" generated a great deal of public interest because of their long-running crime spree and the gruesome nature of the numerous murders that they committed. It's no surprise, therefore, that their story has already provided the basis for a couple of movies and the most notable of these was Leonard Kastle's "The Honeymoon Killers" (1970). In Kastle's movie, the focus remained exclusively on the couple and there was never any intimation that the police were on their tails. "Lonely Hearts", by contrast, tells its story by providing a balanced view of what took place, from the perspectives of both the criminals and the police.Interestingly, director and screenwriter, Todd Robinson is the grandson of the homicide detective who arrested the two killers and so his motivation for telling the story in the way he does is perfectly understandable.After the unexplained suicide of his wife three ears earlier, Nassau County police detective Elmer "Buster" Robinson (John Travolta) had fallen into a deep depression and unable to come to terms with what had happened, confined himself mainly to desk work. This changed however, when a woman's dead body was found in circumstances very similar to his wife's and his colleagues immediately concluded that the death was a suicide. From that point on, Buster became determined to prove that the woman in question had been murdered and to hunt down her killer. Although Detective Charles Hildebrandt (James Gandolfini), who'd been Buster's friend and partner since their "squad car days" wasn't convinced, he was nevertheless, pleased to see this positive change in his old buddy.Raymond Martinez Fernandez (Jared Leto) was a small-time scam-artist whose speciality was locating lonely single women through the newspaper personal ads and after writing to them for a while, would seduce them before relieving them of as much money as possible. One of his marks was ex-nurse Martha Beck (Salma Hayek), but after discovering that she was unemployed, he immediately lost interest in her. Unexpectedly though, Martha recognised what Raymond was up to and enthusiastically joined him in his endeavours, posing as his sister. Unfortunately, Raymond soon discovered that his new partner-in-crime was intensely jealous of the ladies he targeted and was, not only swift to turn her hand to murder, but also to goad Raymond into murdering as well.The couple's murderous rampage continued unabated for some time before Buster, who was also preoccupied by problems with his personal relationships, was eventually able to catch up with the pair and bring them to justice."Lonely Hearts" is a beautifully made film that successfully captures the look and atmosphere of the period in which it's set and features some great hardboiled dialogue. At one point, Buster predicts that "Hell's coming home for Xmas" if Raymond ever decides to dump Martha.Adding an account of the police perspective on the investigation provides some extra interest but what's more difficult to understand is why some departures from the true story were included for no apparent reasons. Fernandez didn't, in fact, kill a police officer and an old man as depicted in this movie and Martha Beck, in reality, was an unattractive, insecure woman who weighed over 200 lbs and was not Hispanic.This movie boasts a terrific cast of actors who turn in some excellent performances. John Travolta conveys the troubled nature of his character who's struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife and to overcome problems with his relationships with his son and his secret lover. Jared Leto is good as the toupee-wearing gigolo who finds himself on the road to Hell after meeting Martha and Salma Hayek, although obviously miscast, brings great vitality to her role and does especially well in the scenes that she shares with Leto. James Gandolfini (who provides the movie's entertaining narration) also does a good job of playing a tough cop, whilst also simultaneously showing the warmth that exists between Hildebrandt and Robinson.Overall, "Lonely Hearts" is a worthwhile remake that's interesting and enjoyable to watch (especially for those who aren't too concerned about its factual inaccuracies).
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
I here compare this film with its model, Lonely Hearts (1969).The two films go together since the former is a remake of the latter. They have to be watched together, one after the other, no matter in what order. The story is pathetic and pitiful. A man takes advantage of the loneliness of some women to literally "abduct" them from sanity and "infect" them with infatuation, which enables him to clean them up of their possessions. But one really falls in love and she abducts him from sanity and infects him with her jealousy into killing the women on whose backs they live. A killing couple, supposedly brother and sister, who skim and milk the crowd of solitary and lonely middle class women.The older film (1969) in black and white was a small budget thriller and it shows how jealousy is mounting and building up in the woman and how she manipulates the man into becoming a killer, till the moment she discovers he is a liar. Then she will cause his downfall herself and her own at the same time. Pure jealousy confronted to a lying partner in a situation that can only give birth to extreme jealousy. It is not easy to be a female pimp of a male gigolo. But the man and the woman are both perfectly composed and logical till the end. The beginning though seems too slow.The more recent film (2006) shifts the vision of the criminal situation from a more or less objective unidentified abstract observer to a team of two cops following the murderers and the bloody trail they leave behind. And the observer is the partner of the main detective. This film shifts the criminal idea from pure jealousy in the woman to insanity in the man. He is a killer instead of being a manipulated gigolo. He is not lying to the woman but she can't stand what she makes him do, hence she is crazy somewhere too. But she will not cause his downfall. They will be caught up by the cops from New York because he starts enjoying killing simple witnesses or passers-by. But here the beginning is turned into some circus parade.This latter film intensively also shows Old Sparky, the full execution of the man with it and only the first phase for the woman. It becomes a graphic film against death penalty since Old Sparky is positioned both at the beginning and at the end of the film, sandwiching the story between these haunting visions. The technique used in this color film is a lot more dynamic and lively than in the older film. But it does not really add to the subject except the vision of Old Sparky but it is an easy explanation to declare a criminal crazy. He might be deranged and get deranged by his own crimes but he has to be sane and perfectly well balanced to go on with killing and escaping. That's why he is shown as losing his mind when at the end he leaves corpses along the road and does not run away.Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID