Playing By Heart


P is for Playing by Heart, a late 90’s movie packed full of fascinating characters, multiple story lines (that eventually intersect) and well developed dialogue that keeps this on my list of recommended movies. My sister and I have long been fans of this movie and quote it endlessly. I’ll include some of my favorite quotes at the end of this post. 🙂

The stellar cast is reason enough to check out this little gem, if you haven’t already. Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands, Ellen Burstyn, Gillian Anderson, Jon Stewart, Madelyn Stowe, Dennis Quaid, Anthony Edwards, Jay Mohr, Ryan Phillipe and Angelina Jolie. Bam! I mean seriously, that cast!

In a collection of great performances, Ellen Burstyn’s Mildred really hits hardest. There is a scene towards the end with Mildred and her son Mark that’ll break your heart.

Angelina Jolie’s Joan is a favorite though. She has some of the best dialogue and her story with Ryan Phillipe’s character is one if the most engaging.

Jon Stewart! I love Jon Stewart. He’s got some of the funniest lines in the movie (imagine that!) and his scenes with Gillian Anderson’s Meredith feel like the center of the overall story. They also have some of my favorite lines.

Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands give a master class in subtle but strong interplay between an older couple about to celebrate a big anniversary.

Dennis Quaid’s Hugh has some of the most diverse scenes, which can take a bit to figure out, but they come together in a way that it is totally worth it.

The stories are captivating and each paints a different picture of love and highlights challenges of varying types and stages of relationships. It’s not completely accurate to classify it as a romantic comedy, though it is essentially all about love. And is very funny.

Part of why I enjoyed this movie was the approach to telling a story with many seemingly unrelated stories all going simultaneously. And then I liked how it all tied together at the end.

One complaint about this movie though, is that it was originally titled Dancing About Architecture from a quote from the movie, but was renamed the extremely generic Playing By Heart. Maybe it was easier to market, but I wish they had stuck with the original.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the writer in me loved the dialogue the most. All the characters speak with intelligence and humor. Most are people I would enjoy sharing a meal and a glass of wine with – just for the conversation.

Below are some of my favorite scenes/quotes from the movie. But truly there are far too many to include. I recommend searching this one out if you can and giving it a try.

Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know if you have seen this so we can chat about what your favorites are – or if you haven’t seen it, still feel free to comment. You can tell me if you’ve even heard of it. Don ‘t worry if you haven’t, though , it definitely did not get a lot of attention.

Have a wonderful night, y’all!

Keenan: This may sound corny, but… you don’t want me. I’m damaged goods.
Joan: So? We’re all damaged goods.

Keenan: That’s the ugliest cat I’ve ever seen.
Joan: She’s an angel.
Keenan: She only has one eye.
Joan: Yeah, but it’s her good one.

Meredith: I’ll tell you what I don’t want. I don’t want all this calculated artificiality. This dress, these stupid little bows in my hair, they aren’t me. I mean, look at you. You – you don’t sit around your house in an Armani suit, do you?
Trent: No. My house is black-tie.

Keenan: My mind has an endless capacity for useless information.

Trent: You know I’m not just asking you to dinner as a pre-emptive strike against litigation. I’m asking because…
Meredith: I’ll have dinner with you.
Trent: What changed your mind?
Meredith: Anyone who can say ‘preemptive strike against litigation’ with a straight face deserves a dinner companion.