Funny thing about star chemistry: You can’t manufacture it. Director Sydney Pollack lucked out with Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. But even a search party would be hard-pressed to find a spark between Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas in Pollack’s latest tear-jerker. The British actress, luminous in The English Patient, tries on an American accent to play Kay Chandler, a New Hampshire congresswoman whose unfaithful husband dies in a plane crash while strapped next to his latest conquest. Ford tries on a scowl that won’t quit to play the dead babe’s husband, internal-affairs Sgt. Dutch Van Den Broeck. Dutch didn’t have a clue that his wife was unfaithful and is devastated; Kay is more concerned at first about the effect on her re-election if the scandal gets out.
It’s a setup for the unlikeliest of relationships, and the long arm of coincidence weighs heavily on the script that Kurt Luedtke has carved out of Warren Adler’s novel. Aside from one furtive scene in a parked car when the betrayed Dutch and Kay paw each other in a feverish revenge fuck, the film is too manicured to generate heat. Ford, the action hero supreme – Go, Indy! – has never cut it as a movie lover (Witness excepted). In Random Hearts, he pulls the same stone-face act that turned Pollack’s Sabrina into ice. Countless screen-hogging closeups of Ford are meant to express Dutch’s emotional thawing. For me, nothing registered except a devout desire to see Ford back home again with Indiana.