FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last Friday, I saw “One from the Heart,” which stars Frederic Forrest (Apocalypse Now, Falling Down), Teri Garr (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Young Frankenstein), Raul Julia (The Addams Family , Street Fighter ), Nastassja Kinski (Tess, Paris Texas), Lainie Kazan (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan), and Harry Dean Stanton (Alien , The Green Mile). It is directed by Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather), who also wrote it with Armyan Bernstein (The Hurricane, Cross My Heart). After five years, a young couple separates to find love in other people, with interesting results.
Should I be burned at the stake for having never seen a Francis Ford Coppola film? I wouldn’t be offended if that were the case, considering how the man has impacted the world of cinema with his beloved classics including “The Godfather” franchise, “Apocalypse Now,” and “The Conversation.” Maybe I should have a director’s marathon for the guy… we’ll see. Actually, come to think of it, I have seen a Coppola movie: “The Outsiders.” Remember that one? Book adaptation featuring the youthful likes of Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, and Rob Lowe? I was forced to watch it in seventh grade, but I’m glad I was; it was a solid feature. Geez, I’m getting off topic. “One From the Heart,” a supposed re-imagining of the classic American musical, shot all on a film stage and played out to an original soundtrack. The most interesting aspect to me (besides how it was shot), was just how unconventional it was for being pegged as a musical. This film followed Coppola’s release of “Apocalypse Now” and was pandered by audiences. It didn’t do well at the box office nor did it soar in critical reception. I believe it all points to how modern it is, for this was certainly a new-age, old film if I’ve seen one. On top of that, I couldn’t figure how this was a musical, given how no one sings and there is hardly any dancing. Really, the musical element comes from the soundtrack that plays throughout the story, with the movie itself being cut on the beats of what is being sung. Everything composed is original, and there was at one point a dance number, but everything else was more so… an abstract piece. Lighting and blocking (from the point of staging dialogue) were the key aspects of “One From the Heart,” and I gotta say it is one of the most beautifully crafted movies I have seen this year. Granted, it’s from 1981, but that’s what is even more perplexing; this film came out thirty-seven years ago. Wowza. Coppola and his team pulled off a crazy feat, utilizing his own film studio to manipulate light and blocking in a way that transcends the story. There were quite a few times where I found myself mesmerized, as the transitions Coppola would take from scene to scene were phenomenal. One in particular saw us going from one apartment scene to another by use of a wall that became translucent as we pushed towards it, silhouetting everything else in the room we were just in. It’s incredible stuff that I haven’t even seen in modern-day cinema (and am confused as to why, considering how awesome this film is with its techniques). “One From the Heart” is over ninety minutes of just flat-out amazing camera and lighting work that should be studied, and really boosted the story in terms of showcasing a simplistic idea to make it dreamlike. The filmmakers killed it. Unfortunately, outside of these elements, the movie falls flat. While the performances were solid for what direction the actors were given, the story itself couldn’t be more empty. It’s a tale about two lovers who split up to find love elsewhere (which we have seen before), but it all amounts to nothing. The journey to get to their revelation wasn’t really fulfilling, as the flick took immense creative liberty to utilize sex as art, and the conclusion itself didn’t do much for me in the long run. We know how this film will end, and outside of the trippy execution to get there, “One From the Heart” doesn’t do much to get us invested into the characters and make things unpredictable. I could care less about Hank and Frannie, and whether or not they end up together. Honestly, they’re jerks whose relationship was mainly built around sex. Should I root for them? The story wants me to, but I was more interested in what the lighting conveyed. It’s a sad thing, considering how technically masterful this piece of cinema is. By the time the credits rolled, I was left with a pit in my stomach, full of wishes that this film took its time to carve out its characters or give them more of a backbone instead of just making them caricatures. Everything outside of the plot boosts the experience to be enjoyable, though when you actually sit down to assess what happened and if you would watch it again, it’s difficult to say you walked away with anything. For me, all I gained was inspiration on how to shoot a scene, but not how to write one (let alone develop characters). Overall, “One From the Heart” is aesthetically amazing and boasts some of the best lighting and camerawork I’ve seen, but alas, the story doesn’t do much to draw me back. FINAL SCORE: 73%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: