Tie-ing it Altogether
Like her parents Jenny Moran (Marcia Gay Harden) goes to church every Sunday where she plays the organ whilst her unemployed working class husband Matt (Gary Basaraba) prefers to head to the park with the children to watch some Sunday sport. When her dad refuses to see his own doctor Jenny plucks up the nerve to speak to Stephen Carrow (Treat Williams) who is not only a Deacon of the church but also a wealthy private physician who agrees to take a look at her father. Sadly it is not good news but it is the start of an affair as Jenny and Stephen start seeing each other with Jenny deciding to leave Matt. But after Stephen's wife Alison (Jennifer Dale) discovers his infidelity she is murdered and whilst the murderer is caught the ramifications of everything threatens to rip apart Jenny's world completely.
I will leave the synopsis there because if you haven't already spotted "Guilty Hearts" is a 3 hour TV movie and as such that covers just the first half. But what this means is that "Guilty Hearts" is one of those movies which takes a storyline which would normally be rushed in to 90 minutes and develops it properly, building the characters, the martial issues for Jenny and Matt, the ill feeling when she decides to leave him whilst also making Stephen Carrow one of those wealthy characters who comes across like a man who wants it all his way and is cunning enough to get it. It makes it more engrossing because rather than huge plot holes leaping out you get a situation which draws you in through it being pieced together in a more logical fashion.
Now what I will say is that this first half builds up to a who done it when Alison Carrow is murdered as we have Stephen and Matt as suspects as Matt's tie is found at the murder scene. But it takes things further when who committed the murder causes further complications by what they reveal and what they try to do to win their case. Yes I am being cagey as whilst "Guilty Hearts" is based on a story it does a nice job of making it a mystery which you wonder where it will lead especially when after the first half we already have the murder. And during the second half we have a variety of twists.
Having said all that "Guilty Hearts" is still a TV movie and whilst it is one which does a much better job of following a logical path it has some TV movie issues. The camera work, the music and the acting at times is all a little on the wrong side of melodramatic which whilst not being an issue for those who enjoy TV movies will probably annoy those who watch and wonder where the grit and realism is.
What that means is that whilst the likes of Treat Williams, Marcia Gay Harden and Gary Basaraba deliver entertaining performances their characters and the way they come across is at times generic and not over memorable. In many ways the movie relies heavily on the audience's fondness for the actors involved more than on their characters despite the fact they have more depth. It actually makes it an interesting situation as whilst on one hand these characters are better written and evolved but they are not that different to those you will find in a movie which is half the length.
What this all boils down to is that "Guilty Hearts" is entertaining thanks to the story which has more logic to it due to its longer running time. But at the same time it still has all the aspects you get from a typical TV movie which includes melodramatics and generic, forgettable characters.