Heart of a Stranger (2002) starring Jane Seymour, Maggie Lawson, Vince Corazza, Peter MacNeill, Martha Irving, Craig Eldridge, James Gallanders directed by Dick Lowry Movie Review

Heart of a Stranger (2002)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jane Seymour as Jill Maddox in Heart of a Stranger (2002)

Not Cellular Memorable

The obvious and the interesting that is an easy way to explain "Heart of a Stranger" which features a woman receiving a heart transplant. The obvious is that we have yet another movie about cellular memory where the recipient of the heart has a strange connection to the donor and it ends up changing them. And then we have the interesting as we see how the relationship between a mother and daughter becomes strained following the transplant and years of the daughter acting as mother to her own mother. Unfortunately whilst the two aspects interweave to create this one drama the whole cellular memory side of "Heart of a Stranger" ends up feeling like a cliche which detracts from the emotional drama of the changing mother daughter relationship.

Promising musician Amanda (Maggie Lawson) maybe the daughter of Jill Maddox (Jane Seymour - Live and Let Die) but because of Jill's defective heart she has become more of a mother to her own mother. It means that when they get the call to say a match has become available it is Amanda who gets her mother to hospital and waits patiently for the operation to be over. But with Jill now on the mend with a new heart it causes issues as Jill no longer needs Amanda to mother her and Jill wants to make up for years of being unable to, trying to mother Amanda who doesn't need it. But that is not the only issues as Jill keeps on getting visions of her donor caused by cellular memory and her desire to find out about him and his family also causes problems between mother and daughter.

Maggie Lawson as Amanda Maddox in Heart of a Stranger (2002)

So "Heart of a Stranger" is a movie of two sides and as already mentioned there is an obvious side and an interesting side. The obvious side is the cliche cellular memory aspect as Jill finds herself haunted by visions of her donor which cause her to suffer panic attacks. There is really nothing new about any of this and there are many movies which use cellular memory as part of the drama although this unlike others doesn't use it as part of a thriller. Instead what we have is Jill feeling that the visions are a message from the dead man pushing her to track down his family to bring them peace, a nice idea but a poorly worked one.

But that is the cliche side of "Heart of a Stranger" and the more interesting side is the family drama as the dynamics change between Amanda and Jill. I suppose it is just as cliche because we have the grown up Amanda not only struggling with a now independent mother but also one who wants to make up for years of illness by doing motherly stuff she missed out on. And we have the flip side of things as Jill doesn't need Amanda to mother her and acts disapproving when she starts seeing her mum enjoying life. All of which could have made for a decent movie on its own but unfortunately the cellular memory side of things ends up distracting from it.

Now in fairness none of the performances in "Heart of a Stranger" blew me away, Jane Seymour as Jill seems to be cast because she could believably play a mother who suddenly acts sexy and dresses sexy after years of being sick. And in fairness Seymour pulls of the tight leather skirt and see through top look, even the surprising wet t-shirt look in one scene but it is not a memorable character. Nor is that of Amanda who is nicely played by Maggie Lawson considering that it is a flat character who seems main purpose is to act moody.

What this all boils down to is that "Heart of a Stranger" ends up mostly ordinary with a good idea about family dynamics wasted as a storyline about cellular memory dominates it. If you've never seen a movie which approaches the subject of cellular memory it will probably be more entertaining but in truth it is the same sort of stuff you can see in other movies which uses cellular memory as part of their story.