Visually appealing and stylish, Lonely Hearts is an easygoing thriller with a stellar cast. I know what you’re wondering right now, is there such a thing as an easygoing thriller but things get even weirder with this one. This is a movie that’s also based on true events, detailing the lives and capture of the notorious Lonely Hearts killers. I recommend you check out what really happened after you’ve seen the movie to avoid any spoilers. And to top things off, the director is Todd Robinson, grandson of one of the investigating officers assigned to the case, Elmer C. Robinson.
So, you can say that Lonely Hearts is also a very personal movie. It’s got all the trademarks of a neo-noir movie complete with the narration. And the narrator is none other than James Gandolfini adding gravitas to the whole thing. The rest of the cast is also great, led by John Travolta still struggling to overcome his hair loss issues. It will take him another four years to appear bald in From Paris With Love. Our murderous duo is played by Jared Leto and Salma Hayek. She plays the femme fatale in this telling of events although the real Martha Beck looks nothing like her. Still, I think they’ve made the right choice by casting her for the role.
The story takes place a couple of years after the second world war, following two cops who become interested in a suicide that looks a bit fishy. At the same time, Martha and Ray, two cold-blooded swindlers just keep upping their ante, unaware that fate is going to catch up to them real soon. The parts of the movie detailing their schemes and murders feel rather aloof contrasting the detectives’ gloomy struggles to catch them. We pretty much know what’s going to happen, the only question that remains is how.
Elmer Robinson is a weary detective working the phones in the police station, devastated by his wife’s suicide. This is why one young woman’s suicide seems a bit odd to him. Elmer feels that there’s more to this than it appears although not his partner Charles or others believe him. Little does he know that he just stumbled upon the work of a pair of vicious killers. Vicious killers who weren’t that at first and this is their story.
Lonely Hearts feels to be like a lighthearted version of In Cold Blood, another movie based on true events. In that case, the killers also created this strange dynamic where only by being together they were able to carry out these gruesome acts. Additionally, the crimes happened around the same time, only this is a period movie and In Cold Blood was shot just ten years after.
And while we do see a bit of character development here, the tension is almost nonexistent. This makes Lonely Hearts a bit less engaging but also draining on the viewer. If you had a rough or just mind-numbingly boring day at work, it’s just the thing to play. You don’t have to invest anything nor does the story requires you to. You’ll just be a witness to events unfolding at a steady pace.
I think it’s just a matter of time before we get a proper adaptation of this case. And I’m not saying that just because it had a lot of potential that ended up not being utilized. There are just so many aspects of this story that are ripe for further exploration. Driven by strong performances by Hayek and Leto, Lonely Hearts also features a really cool visual outlook. It reminded me of a much better noir movie, LA Confidential I recommend you revisit if you’re looking for similar movies.
Director: Todd Robinson
Writer: Todd Robinson
Cast: John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, James Gandolfini, Scott Caan, Laura Dern
Fun Facts: The shiny plane you see in Lonely Hearts is a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, an all-metal airliner from the thirties.