…or work for the first third or first half, but don’t work as an overall story — an HE riff if I ever devised one!

I recently happened to re-watch Sydney Pollack‘s Random Hearts (’99), a forlorn adult romance that flopped financially and totally tanked in terms of critic and ticket buyer opinions.

It’s about a tentative, uncertain love affair between a D.C. cop (Harrison Ford) and a New Hampshire Congressperson (Kristin Scott Thomas) who meet because their spouses (Susanna Thompson and Peter Coyote, respectively) were having an affair before dying in a plane crash.

Random Hearts doesn’t work because it can’t — you can’t launch a loving, adult, non-obsessive relationship with the shattered spouse of the person your husband or your wife was having an affair with. The thing that Ford and Thomas have (they fall for each other and make love in a woodsy cabin) will always be a weird menage a quatre between two living and two dead people. It’s just not in the cards for things to work out, but Pollack and screenwriter Kurt Luedtke try their best to make it work anyway.

And to a certain extent, they succeed. There are several scenes during the first half that work quite well — they really do. Carefully written, well acted, appropriately steady and somber.

And because of the more or less successful first half Random Hearts doesn’t deserve a 15% Rotten Tomatoes rating — that’s ridiculous!

What other films are at least reasonably good during the first third or first half, only to steadily crack and shatter and fall apart during the second half?