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Lonely Hearts (2006)

Sony

Cast: John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Scott Caan, Laura Dern.

Rating: R

Run time: 108 mins

Genre: Crime

Verdict: Beautiful (see rating system)

How did this little gem get away?

Based on the true story of notorious "lonely hearts killers" Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, this moody and atmospheric film received a brief and very limited theatrical release.

Pity, because the movie is a cut above your average crime caper thanks to great chemistry between Travolta and Gandolfini and solid performances from the rest of the cast.

The movie's unerring sense of realism and attention to period detail is aided by the fact writer/director Todd Robinson is the grandson of Travolta's character, Elmer C. Robinson, who pursued the killer couple and helped send them to the electric chair.

The movie falls short only in the casting of the gorgeous Selma Hayek as Beck, who in real life was ugly and obese. Why is it that Hollywood has to have a babe in such roles? Still, Hayek does nail Beck's dark sexual obsession for Fernandez.

Fernandez was a con man who duped single or widowed women he met through "lonely hearts" ads he placed in newspapers. Once he met Beck, who pretended to be his sister, murder was added to the menu and the couple is believed to have killed at least 12 women for their money during the 1940s.

Robinson and his partner Charles Hildebrandt (Gandolfini) finally caught up with the pair shortly after they'd murdered a young widow and her child.

A dark journey though the pure evil that lurks in some people, Lonely Hearts is a movie made with integrity - one of Travolta's best for a while.

The DVD includes a good documentary on the making of the film.

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