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Movie Review: Lonely Hearts

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This is an absorbing film noir based on the true story about serial killers known as the notorious "Lonely Hearts Killers". This film deals with the exploits of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez who were on a murder spree during the late 1940s beginning in Long Island, New York, along with the diligent homicide detectives, Elmer C. Robinson and Charles Hilderbrandt, who pursued them.

Raymond Fernandez (Jared Leto) a feral, slick, untrustworthy con man lured, seduced, and married vulnerable women from the lonely hearts columns of newspaper ads and milked them of any valuables they possessed. Martha Beck (Selma Hayek) was a needy and compulsive woman who left her job as a nurse and dumped her mother in a rest home, and became Raymond's partner in crime. Martha had the need to feel she was the only "real" woman his life. This dangerous love duo became an unlikely pair, pretending to be brother and sister as they committed grotesque murders and left behind a bloody trail.

The story interwines with Detective Elmer C. Robinson's (John Travolta) personal culpability in the unexplained suicide of his wife and how it affected the lack of attention he showed his teenaged son. His partner Detective Charles Hilderbrandt (James Gandolfini) was constantly there to support him, but Det. Robinson buried himself in his work. The series of murders gave this pair of detectives an outlet, an opportunity to feel alive as they investigated the crimes and ultimately helped in the capture and conviction of the pair, eventually witnessing their executions at Sing Sing Prison.

The performance of Selma Hayek is brilliant as she captures Martha as a possessive and deranged woman with a bizarre sexual appetite, while Jared Leto's intense performance was quite intelligent as Raymond. John Travolta had an uncanny manner that served his character well, showing a need to find closure in a confused family that needed his leadership. And James Gandolfini must have found a niche in crime films, because his performance was flawless as Det. Hilderbrandt. Intensity and supense weren't spared in this shocking saga.

The story of this late 1940s suspenseful crime drama was also the subject of 1970's The Honeymoon Killers, directed by Leonard Kastle, starring Tony LoBianco and Shirley Stoler. With the supporting cast of Laura Dern and Scott Caan in this new gritty version, I found this to be much more explosive and daring.

Directed by: Todd Robinson
Run time: 108 mins.
Release date: April 13, 2007
Genre: Drama, Suspense and Thriller
Distributor: IDP/Millennium Films
MPAA Rating: R

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