While Walker deals with goings-on at the bar, The Stranger spends his sleepless nights at a diner flirting malevolently with a waitress, Grace (Melora Hardin). Meanwhile, in their palatial home, Walker’s wife Teri is bored out of her mind by herself. To say more would give the plot away.
The film is tight, particularly for a production on a budget. There are, however, plot holes big enough to drive a truck full of stolen goods through. Osborne manages to make them seem inconsequential. He runs right up to the edge of narrative credibility, but part of the thrill of the film is that he stays on this side of the line and keeps the viewer engaged. Patrick Day, bearing a striking resemblance to Jeremy Renner, roars and whimpers, while Alev Aydin’s mysterious stranger is a perfect enigmatic trickster. They are both top-notch performances.
“Is it a noir crime thriller? A romance? A mystery? The answer to each of those is yes. And no.”
As the credits roll, a question hangs in the air unanswered. It’s not crucial to the action, but it will still haunt you, chewing at your brain like a moth in a sweater. Even that mystery is great fun, as the filmmaker spins you into a web you can’t resist.
Is it a noir crime thriller? A romance? A mystery? A marriage story? The answer to each of those is yes. And no. Cruel Hearts plops down beside you and tells you it’s boffing your wife, then makes a compelling argument for you to stick around for an insane, but exceptionally entertaining show.
"…opens with a kick in the teeth and then never lets up."