Paul (Randall LaRue) and his wife Kate (Molly Fonseca) are in the midst of a massive fight, the kind where you sleep in separate rooms and try not to make eye contact for fear of the fight flaring up again. Despite some light fun at the local alternative book store, where he works with best friend Jonah (Andrew Ramirez), Paul isn’t seeing many positives in his life. That is, until he meets Marion (Cassadie A. Peterson).
A gregarious woman who hates her job, and the bus that is consistently late (making her late and thus getting her in trouble with her superiors), Marion appears to be everything that Kate is not. For starters, she makes eye contact and talks to Paul without a fight breaking out. So the two strike up a friendship, one where Paul hasn’t made it clear that he is currently married, and one that is quickly progressing down the path to adultery.
What Tinyhearts strongly captures is a realistic view of how marriages, or almost any relationship, can fall apart. There’s bluster in the arguments, but for the most part it is the silence of the separation, the whimper of the pulling away from one another, that does things in for good. Seldom is it an explosion so much as a steady drift away.
And the film manages to capture that, while also keeping an almost documentarian’s eye on the narrative. No one is set up to be a hero or villain here (though you may think less of certain behavior) so much as we’re just watching the sad decline of one relationship and the misplaced hope in another. At times you want to step into the screen and try and set people in the right direction, but it’s going to play out how it plays out. Good people make bad decisions, or sometimes no decisions as they avoid real change.
But lest you think it’s all melodrama and moping, it isn’t. Sequences between Paul and Jonah are particularly playful and fun, and a chemistry exists on screen with the duo that no doubt translates to their real lives (Ramirez and LaRue also co-directed the film). Likewise, Fonseca, despite having a role that is often punctuated with anger and raised voice, manages to convey depth and garner sympathy for the failing marriage. Likewise Peterson’s Marion, who could’ve easily fallen into Manic Pixie Dream Girl stereotypical territory, instead stays a complete character with her own complexities and problems.
Overall, Tinyhearts makes a quality showing, but it also isn’t a terribly unique spin on its basic tale. What we have here is a strong telling of a familiar story, one that makes for an entertaining enough cinematic experience. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t so spectacular that it might stand out from a pack of similarly themed films. Don’t let that dissuade you, however. Quality is still quality, and this one does deliver.
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