It's the kind of movie you'll want to see a second time with someone who hasn't seen it yet, to remember what it was like to watch it for the first time.
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It is a beautiful movie, all the scenes shot very nicely. But the reason I would not recommend it is because the movie has no clear focus.The focus of this film, which was split between Buster and the couples half-and-half, should have been solely on Ray and Martha instead, who would have had the chance to make the film a lot more twisted, gruesome and action-packed..., the sort of things you would expect in a serial killer movie. The movie-rated "R" anyway-is a lot cleaner than I thought. The most gruesome scene is probably the blood gushing out of the woman who was shot by Martha in a furry while she was riding on Ray having sex. That is all. I guess if there was additional 20 mins scenes shot on the killer couples and their preys, we would have the chance to look deeper into their twisted mind and the manic killing spree. Instead, the film spent a lot of precious time on Buster. If there was a good story about him, it would have been different. But it was none. Buster's wife died at the beginning, shooting her brain out in a bathtub. The scene was a lot like the later one, where Ray's victim committing a suicide because she caught him having sex with Martha. So I naturally thought there was some connection between Buster's wife and Ray. I waited until the last minute expecting to see it revealed, but nothing. The director did not give any explanation about Buster's wife's suicide, which basically devalued the starting scene-there was nothing in the end to echo the beginning. Then it was Buster's personal life: his son, his mom, Rene... has not much to do with neither the killing nor the detection. So does anybody care except the director, who is actually a descendant of real Buster?In the end, I was puzzled why Laura Dern joined this film. She was David Lynch's favorite leading actress. She looked like an angel in Blue Velvet. She was so skillful in Inland Empire. Then she played Rene, who was not important what so ever. I mean, Laura tried to show the different aspect of this woman, her harshness in the office, her tenderness in bed with Buster, her self-respect... All the effort was wasted again, when it came to the end scene, where it had no time to explain her reunion with Buster. There should have been some good emotional scenes.Even though the shooting was done beautifully, the storyline was planned very poorly. I can't say I enjoyed watching it.
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I've just watched this film on YouTube so the resolution wasn't great, however what an atmospheric well acted movie. The cops are hard boiled flawed individuals and the perpetrators were truly sociopathic. The portrayal the evil couple Ray and Martha knocked the 60s portrayal of Bonnie & Clyde into a cocked hat & probably is only equalled by Martin and Cissy in Badlands. This film didn't follow the formula of having a crescendo like conclusion, but things like this don't in real life, no one wins and all that's left is a big hole of sadness and I think that's what this film does so well. It emphasises the complete self absorption of the perpetrators and the tiny world they inhabit between themselves and demonstrates the evil they do when they interact with the real world. Well worth 8.5 a great telling of a true crime!
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Don't be fooled - the cast could not save this film from the slow moving train-wreck this predictable and clunky abomination is. You will be left asking 'Why?' There was a shopping list of 'themes' and genre enforcing clichés that violently assaulted the viewer throughout the entirety of this awful tripe, including but not limited to: 1: Salvation in police work; 2: Femme-fatale; 3: Fraught father-son relationship with new woman on scene; 4: My jurisdiction's bigger than yours; 5: Good cop, bad cop; 6: Fiesty latina; 7: BJ behind the wheel of car; 8: Avant-garde murder-sex scene (really Selma?); 9: Men too tough to talk about feelings and turning to therapeutic carpentry; 10: Cops and donuts joke; 11: Historically 'appropriate' sexism; 12: Cop makes grisly find. Sinks to knees in pain; 13: 'This is a suicide.' 'No, it's a murder!'; 14: Blood dripping through floorboards; 15: 'We've just missed them.... Coffee's still warm.'; 16: Punchy one-liner before getting the chair.John Travolta is old. He had a stuntman. There were no stunts. Make-up will not fool the discerning viewer.This film is unwatchable. Drink responsibly.
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This is a dark, shocking and fairly gripping crime story undercut slightly by some bad storytelling decisions. It's like a wonderful meal where the chef decided to use pepper when he should have used salt. It doesn't ruin anything but it leaves a bit of an odd taste in your mouth.Based on a real life story from around 1950, Lonely Hearts is about Ray Fernandez (Jared Leto) and Martha Beck (Salma Hayek), a small time con man and the crazy woman who led him into a murder spree. At least it should have been about them because they are both fascinating characters and Jared Leto and Salma Hayek give strong performances in the roles. Unfortunately, writer/director Todd Robinson decided that Ray and Martha would have to share the screen equally with Elmer "Buster" Robinson (John Travolta), the police detective who eventually brought Ray and Martha to justice. Buster isn't really that interesting and it isn't helped by John Travolta giving one of the most sedentary and impassive performances of his career.Ray Fernandez was a confidence man who used his easy charm and a toupee to romance widows and old maids he met through "lonely hearts" newsletters and then took all their money. When he tries to take advantage of Martha, she not only sees through him, she overwhelms him with her passion and latches onto Ray with the obsession that the emotionally-damaged call love. Ray is a bad guy but he's also a normal guy who's almost helpless against the manipulation of the sociopathic Martha. She's incapable of considering anything but her own unquestioned needs and it gives her a strength that Ray finds irresistible. This common criminal and this deranged woman come together and turn petty crimes into inhuman savagery.The story also deals with Buster Robinson's uneasy relationship with his his partner Charlie (James Gandolfini) and his lover Renee (Laura Dern), a woman who works at his precinct. Underneath it all is Buster's unresolved sorrow and grief over the unexplained suicide of his wife. The problem is that all of Buster's difficulties are addressed in a perfunctory manner and don't connect in either a direct or analogous way to Ray and Martha's story. Nothing about Buster's life is all that compelling. It's certainly not as engrossing as Ray and Martha's twisted union or their relationship with their poor victims. When the film focuses on those women and how their unhappiness, personal hardship and hope made them vulnerable, it is both creepy and riveting. Writer/director Todd Robinson is the grandson of the real Buster Robinson, but his desire to enhance his grandfather's role in the story distracts from the heart of the tale without adding enough substance on its own. The film is also hurt by some intrusive and pointless narration by Buster's partner and an excessive amount of vulgarity and crudity from the cops at the start of the film that spoils the illusion of 1950s wholesomeness that would have been such an affecting counterpoint to Ray and Martha's depravity. I'm sure the police of that era didn't talk and act like Shirley Temple, but it was an age where manners and social order were almost oppressively strong and I don't think writer/director Robinson has any idea how different then was from now.For the outstanding acting of Leto and Hayek and its powerful, startling moments of human brutality, Lonely Hearts is well worth watching. It could have been even better, but you can't hold that against it.