A Broken Heart Leads to Heart Break
As a child Callie Morgan (Samantha Mathis - Fathers and Sons) was diagnosed with a heart problem, now as a young woman her health is so poor that she is heading into hospital to wait for a heart transplant. Hospital is certainly not what she was expecting as she is introduced to other patients who like her are in there waiting and hoping for it to be their turn next, especially when it comes to Jasper (Peter Dobson - Riot) who copes by making fun of the graveness of their situation. But despite initially disliking Jasper, Callie grows fond of him especially when it turns out they both get their heart transplant ops around the same time. And that is not all as they both find themselves having feelings towards a young girl called Cricket (Mary Mouser).
"A Stranger's Heart" is a movie of two halves with the first half focussing on the situation of Callie who since childhood has had heart trouble and now as an adult she is in a bad way. But before you get to this point you get the back story, one which starts so drenched in fairytale styling that it is a bit cringe worthy. What we basically learn is that Callie came from a loving family, the sort where the mum and dad dance of an evening and they make gingerbread houses but disaster struck and left her dad nursing a broken heart. You may wonder what the purpose is of making this opening a mix of fairytale and heart break but it makes sense during the second half of the movie, giving meaning to why Callie is not only protective of becoming heart broken but doesn't believe in happy ever after endings.
Anyway the actual first half of "A Stranger's Heart" is really all about Callie going into hospital to wait for a heart transplant and meets others in the same boat as her. Now you have to admire director Andy Wolk as he embraces the dark humour of the situation and these patients who make light of their situation in order to cope. It may at times feel forced as we are introduced to Jasper who often uses an inflatable doll to make light of his situation but it brings a smile to your face. Yet at the same time it also highlights the situation of these people where even a heart transplant doesn't guarantee a new life, serving up one of the few really dramatic moments in "A Stranger's Heart".
At the same time as we get all this hospital humour we also get the romance between Jasper and Callie or to be correct Jasper's countless attempts to chat Callie up but with little success. To be honest it is rather obvious that they will end up together, sharing issues of the heart in more ways than just romance. But it also ties in nicely to that fairytale opening to "A Stranger's Heart" with Callie being guarded about getting close to anyone because she saw what heart break did to her father.
Now to the second half of "A Stranger's Heart" which takes the fairytale element to a completely other level because Callie and Jasper both get heart transplants and they find themselves drawn to a young girl who lives with her grandfather. Now you are either going to love or hate this because they both feel some deep connection to this young girl and whilst I won't tell you what is going on you can probably guess. And as such you probably won't be shocked when I say that everything ties together as "A Stranger's Heart" progresses with warmth and heart break before bringing it all to a predictably happy ever after ending.
What this all boils down to is that "A Stranger's Heart" wants to be a fairytale romantic drama and to be honest it is exactly that. It is overly sweet and to be honest a little 2 dimensional when it comes to the characters. But beyond the various issues, and there are a few, it is sort of entertaining.