One from the Heart (1981)

Written by Wuchak on April 20, 2020

Coppola’s avant-garde musical with Teri Garr and Nastassja Kinski

A couple who’s been living together for five years in Las Vegas has a tiff (Teri Garr & Frederic Forrest). As they grieve their heartbreak, they flirt with alternative lovers on July 4th (Raul Julia & Nastassja Kinski).

“One from the Heart” (1981) was Francis Ford Coppola’s follow-up to his incredible “Apocalypse Now” (1979). It’s a romantic musical shot entirely on a large sound stage (with one sequence done in the back lot) of Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, a studio by artists for artists. It’s in the tradition of the outstanding “Moulin Rouge” (1952) and the precursor to the dynamic “Chicago” (2002), but it lacks the compelling story of the former and the electricity of the latter.

Coppola was excited about using experimental video equipment to view/edit the movie and it certainly looks good, but the story is simplistic, which no doubt was the point in order for the viewer to focus on the artistic visuals and pleasant lounge music (by Tom Waits featuring Crystal Gayle). Nevertheless, the story is dull and Forrest lacks the charm to play a leading man, although Raul is charismatic. On the female front, Garr looks great as she nears the end of her physical prime and this is perhaps the best film to view Nastassja’s beauty.

While the film has its partisans and is certainly worth checking out for the reasons noted, it flopped upon release and it took Coppola a decade to recover financially. But I respect Francis for his experimental drive. They can’t all be hits.

The movie runs 1 hour, 47 minutes.