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Film / Playing by Heart

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Playing by Heart is a 1998 romantic dramedy film written and directed by Willard Carroll, featuring an All-Star Cast including Gillian Anderson, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards, Angelina Jolie, Jay Mohr, Ryan Phillippe, Dennis Quaid, Gena Rowlands, Jon Stewart, and Madeleine Stowe.

The film follows a number of characters living in Los Angeles and their relationships.


  • The Alcoholic: Joan seems to be edging around this. At their first meeting Keenan notices how quickly she gulps down her martini, and later comments on her drinking. She stops drinking at this point, but her parents are clearly (pleasantly) surprised by this, so it wasn't just in Keenan's head.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Although most of the couples seem to have reached some measure of happiness by the end, it's not clear what the future holds for Hugh and Gracie.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Joan makes one for Keenan after he reveals he's got HIV.
  • Dark Secret: Keenan avoids getting too close to Joan, until he reveals that he was infected with HIV by his last girlfriend.
  • Faux Yay: Hugh attempts this at a gay bar, but the Drag Queen he's chatting to sees through the ruse.
    Lana: Lana may be three sheets to the proverbial wind, but I don't believe a single word coming out of your pretty, straight, little mouth.
  • Fiery Redhead: Joan. Meredith has the red hair, but not the personality.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: For Keenan, with devastating consequences.
  • Happily Married: Paul and Hannah.
  • Hyperlink Story: The final scenes of the film reveal how the characters are linked- Joan, Meredith and Gracie are Paul and Hannah's daughters; Hugh is Gracie's husband and Roger is the celebrant who is presiding over Paul and Hannah's renewal of their vows. A couple of scenes earlier, Mark is revealed to be Meredith's ex.
  • Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Meredith's view of relationships- after getting hurt one too many times she's reluctant to get involved with Trent.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Joan.