One From the Heart
1982, R, 100 min. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Starring Frederic Forrest, Teri Garr, Raul Julia, Nastassja Kinski, Lainie Kazan, Harry Dean Stanton.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Jan. 2, 2004
Coppola goes for broke, in more ways than one, in this aptly titled 1982 film. Set in a Las Vegas of the mind during a Fourth of July weekend, the movie tells the love story of Hank and Frannie (Forrest and Garr). Celebrating the five-year anniversary of their meeting, the mood speaks more of disenchantment than romance, so they each provoke arguments, and Frannie walks out the door with a declaration of independence. Over the weekend, Frannie finds a Latin lover (Julia) and Hank finds an exotic circus performer (Kinski). Each of them also has a colorful sidekick: Frannie has Lainie Kazan, who runs the travel agency where Frannie works and dreams of Bora Bora, and Hank has Harry Dean Stanton, with whom he co-owns a junkyard called Reality Wrecking. The Latin lover turns out to be an ordinary waiter, and the circus performer's high-wire act is out of place in a junkyard. And, somehow, by the end of the weekend the state of Hank and Frannie's union is reunited. The real high-wire act here is Coppola's, however. Shot entirely on a soundstage, the big-budgeted One From the Heart is one of the products of Coppola's short-lived dream of an independent studio. His Las Vegas is a luxurious fabrication of a city that is already a fabrication to begin with. But it's the kind of neon strip where people can dance down the street to choreography by Gene Kelly, or an airplane can take off so big and so low that you can practically reach out of your car and grab on. Coppola's frequent collaborators designer Dean Tavoularis and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro were on hand for this project which followed up Apocalypse Now and The Godfather: Part II. The movie also features a fabulous soundtrack by Tom Waits and performed by Waits and Crystal Gayle. One From the Heart was fairly well brutalized by critics upon its release and performed miserably at the box office. Perhaps no one was ready for this most unusual of Coppola films: one that banks on artifice as a style for telling little stories of the heart. Now, Coppola has re-edited a new print which makes various nips and tucks throughout but is still as glorious as ever. See "One From the Heart" by Louis Black for more on the movie.