One from the Heart is primarily a love story about a couple, Hank (Forrest) and Frannie (Garr), who are going through a rough patch in their relationship and both are looking for a little more out of life.
There is a great opening title sequence, with the camera flying around all of the famous Las Vegas hotels and landmarks, all scaled down to miniatures. This is accompanied by Tom Waits’ amazing score and we can tell from the beginning that this isn’t going to be a conventional love story.
From the very start, Coppola really captures the glitz and glamour of Vegas and we join Hank and Frannie in their modest house. Frannie is getting ready for a night out on the tiles and Hank is cooking her a meal for their fifth anniversary. Wires are crossed and an argument ensues because Hank wants to stay in and Frannie wants a bit of adventure and fun. They’re the typical couple after five years of being together. He has lost his physique and she doesn’t bother shaving her legs anymore. They are Mr. and Mrs. Average, who are striving for a little bit of excitement to spice things up. Both have fiery tempers, so during the argument, the relationship is announced as being ‘over’ and they stop at each of their best friend’s houses to cool down.
The next day, they both meet someone else. Frannie meets a tall, dark and handsome ‘singer’ called Ray (Julia) and Hank meets a circus performer called Leila (Kinski); their dream partners. This leads to an fantastic sequence where they’re both on their respective nights out and they keep missing each other by seconds in the street and walking through separate doors at the same time.
There are some very funny and entertaining scenes throughout this evening, like an impromptu dance sequence set to some funky jazz music. At this point, during the tango, all I could see in Raul Julia was Gomez from The Addams’ Family. It gets even more surreal when Hank conducts the used car orchestra. You have to see it to believe it and every bit of genius that goes with it. Coppola couldn’t get any further from Apocalypse Now if he’d tried.
The big question lingering over the movie is will this one night of excitement and debauchery be enough to break up a five year relationship?
The narrative brings hardly any character development to Hank and Frannie, but it’s not needed. We know everything we need to know about this couple and that is that they’re in love, but sick of each other. It’s such a recognisable story, in an unrecognisable setting. Talking about the setting; the sets are fantastic and incredibly stylised. It is entirely filmed on Coppola’s own sound stage, Zoetrope Studios, where he created a dream-like Las Vegas and it’s even filmed a little bit like a stage play. Vegas actually feels like the catalyst that is holding their relationship together and is essentially the third person in the relationship.
Many scenes and sequences encapsulate the mood of a thirties or forties musical and underneath the surface, that’s exactly what this film is, a musical. It was even nominated for an Oscar for best song by Tom Waits.
I can see how this wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I believe it to be a triumph in film making and Coppola is quite revolutionary in his editing techniques. There are many scenes spliced into each other, or with the next scene projected on a wall, or 2 characters looking into the same mirror, but in different locations. Even little touches like panning from the outside of the window, to the inside when their having a conversation, without using any cuts.
This is completely overshadowed by his other work, but this movie shows how much of a versatile director Coppola was and still is. I had a great time watching it and would love to see this on the big screen sometime.
One from the Heart will be released on DVD on 7th November 2011.
DIRECTOR: FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
STARS: FREDERIC FORREST, TERRI GARR, RAUL JULIA, NATASSJA KINSKI
RUNTIME: 107 MINS APPROX
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