Playing by Heart (1998)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: It's overly talky, but Playing By Heart benefits from witty insights into modern relationships and strong performances from an esteemed cast.

Movie Info

This film weaves together interlocking stories about finding love in Los Angeles. The film's theme is spoken by young club-hopper Joan. Taken by the mysterious Keenan, she tells him that "talking about love" is like "dancing about architecture," meaning speech is not the medium to express the details of love.
Rating:
R
Genre:
Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Miramax

Watch it now

Cast

Amanda Peet
as Amber
Gena Rowlands
as Hannah
Mark Lewis
as Waiter
Ellen Burstyn
as Mildred
Gillian Anderson
as Meredith
Jay Mohr
as Mark
Jeremy Sisto
as Malcolm
Matt Malloy
as Desk Clerk
Jon Stewart
as Trent
April Grace
as Valery
David Clennon
as Martin
Alec Mapa
as Lana
Joel McCrary
as Bartender, Drag Bar
Hal Landon Jr.
as Actor `Commissioner'
Jim Abele
as Doctor
Marc Allen Lewis
as Actor `Harpagon'
Robert English
as Saxophonist
Tim Halligan
as Director, Cook Show
Daniel Chodos
as Actor `Anselme'
David Ferguson
as Drag Queen
Ron Boussom
as Actor `Jacques'
Worthie Meacham
as 2nd Drag Queen Performer
Marcus Printop
as Trumpet Player
Larry Antonio
as Bass Player
Tom Chuchvara
as Drummer
Ryo Okumuto
as Pianist
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Playing by Heart

Critic Reviews for Playing by Heart

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (14)

Carroll's characters spend so much time talking, albeit intelligently, that the connections they make seem peculiarly synthetic.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

This charming romantic comedy with a Los Angeles setting cuts between seemingly unconnected miniplots the way some Robert Altman movies do.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

All of these characters are more interesting when things are going badly for them than when the tide has turned, and Carroll's determination to make the final reel an extended bout of audience tummy tickling is disappointingly conventional.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

If Playing by Heart is the kind of film that used to be known as a "woman's picture," it certainly provides more emotional nourishment than most other mainstream movies generate these days.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The movie is consistently well-acted and features a gallery of characters so affable that it's difficult to actively dislike any of them, or, for that matter, the film as a whole.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
ReelViews
Top Critic

For all its artificiality, Playing by Heart percolates with an earnest charm.

December 31, 1999
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Playing by Heart

A passable yet rather predictable romantic drama that, despite a top-notch cast, seems more interested in its element of surprise at the end, reducing all the complexity of its situations and themes to a happy ending where everything works out and is wrapped up in easy fashion.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

A delightful little film with an A-list roster of stars and a convoluted tale of relationships, beginning and ending and at a crossroads. I found myself caring about these characters, every one of them damaged goods in some way, but all of them looking for someone to love and to be loved by. A little bit schmaltzy at times, but its heart is in the right place and I dug it.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

½

I'm a bit confused as to why "Playing By Heart" has faded into oblivion since it debuted in 1998. First off, the cast is impeccable. "Playing By Heart" should be remembered for getting some of contemporary cinema's finest actors on screen together. Gillian Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Madeleine Stowe, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards, Dennis Quaid, Gena Rowlands, Ryan Phillippe, Jay Mohr and Jon Stewart (yes, THAT Jon Stewart, who is shockingly great here) are all terrific. There is not a single weak spot in the ensemble. What's funny is that the actors are all so good that it almost seems like they are daring each other to top the next. Jolie, in an early performance, steals the whole picture, though. If this was not a showcase for what was to come, I don't know what is. The story is something we have seen before, mostly from the likes of Robert Altman, but none of it is ever trite or offensive. It's all played out with such grace and nuance that even it's somewhat conventional ending is welcomed. If you like movies about a group of interconnected people working through their lives and dealing with love and making connections (admittedly my favorite genre), then "Playing By Heart" is for you. I also recommend it on the merits of that incredible cast and the endlessly enticing dialogue. It all makes for a magical, resonant and sweet picture about the many sides of love.

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

Playing by Heart Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss Playing by Heart on our Movie forum!

News & Features