“Wandering Heart” (“Errante corazón”)
Screened at the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival (3/5)
Abandonment is a difficult issue whether one is on the receiving end or doing the deserting. Such is the experience of a middle-aged gay man who has been on both ends of this burning candle. It seems like he’s either leaving the ones he cares about or those whom he adores are leaving him, and it’s beginning to take an emotional toll on him. The same is true to an extent for those around him, most notably his daughter, a recent high school graduate, and his ex-wife, an entertainer who has trouble keeping centered. In each case, the characters are wrestling with their restless wandering hearts. But is that wandering being driven by an inability to commit or by fear, particularly the anxiety associated with being alone? Those are the questions the characters must deal with if they ever hope to hold on to their sanity, let alone be happy. In an age when feelings of isolation are becoming more prevalent, those are certainly important considerations to address. However, writer-director Leonardo Brzezicki’s handling of this issue leaves much to be desired. The characters’ behavior (most notably that of the protagonist) often lacks believability, exercises in immaturity that truly stretch credibility. Then there’s a noticeable lack of specificity in the back story; its vague explanations never feel complete or satisfactory. And then there are the performances, which bring new meaning to the term “drama queen” on more than a few occasions. Finally, the forced feel-good attitude that emerges in the final act seems wholly out of place in light of what precedes it, cheapening the overall narrative. Still, to the film’s credit, it does take on a subject that’s seldom dealt with in movies, and there’s something to be said for that; it’s just a shame it wasn’t better handled.