Complete A-Z list

Lonely Hearts


Stars: John Travolta. James Gandolfini, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Scott Caan, Laura Dern. Michael Gaston, Alice Krige, Bruce MacVitie, Ellen Travolta, Sam Travolta, Christa Campbell, Dan Byrd, Andrew Wheeler, Dagmara Dominczyk, John Doman

Director: Todd Robinson

The basic narrative arc - a driven policeman sacrifices his personal life to bring killers to book – is a patent cinema staple. Two elements of this gripping crime thriller differentiate it from other run-of-the-genre movies. First, it’s based on a true story – in this case the hunt for serial slayers Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, the infamous ‘Honeymoon Killers’ who carved their bloody swathe in 1940s USA. Second, the police protagonist Nassau County Detective Elmer C Robinson, played by Travolta, was writer-director Robinson’s grandfather, giving the powerfully-told story a fascinating added dramatic dimension.

Robinson does a fine job, employing vividly recreated period detail (Peter Levy’s atmospheric cinematography, John Gary Steele’s production design and Noir-ish narration by Gandolfini, playing Travolta’s partner, are major assets) to add impact to his well-told story. Performances, too, are excellent. Travolta is far better than he was in his overrated ‘comeback’ movie Pulp Fiction. Gandolfini, on the right side of the law for a change, is a convincing cop, and Leto, sporting a wig and a weedy seducer’s moustache, is excellent as the male half of the killer duo - while Hayek almost persuaded me she could act well.

Robinson doesn’t pull his punches depicting the murders but, making a change from so many of today’s exploitative movies, the pervasive sex sequences and graphic violence are justified by both the subject and its treatment.

Alan Frank

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 26 Jul 2007