An artistic film with a dark center, “Dark Hearts” is a film that drives the crazy artist sane and the sane person crazy. An artist loses his inspiration and rediscovers it when he meets an alluring and precarious muse. She helps him to discover the perfect color red: blood. A fierce romance erupts between the two unleashing betrayal, obsession and destruction. With a cast that has left plenty of marks on the Hollywood scene and a story that draws the audience in and traps them within it, this film is on a steady climb to higher success.
We follow Colson (played by a brooding Kyle Schmid), a distracted artist seeking a new muse. The story jumps in with little warning with a flash forward into the future, and then immediately throws us into Colson’s life as he attends a rock show, where the lead singer of an all female rock band fills many voids in his life, including the role of the muse. The story then picks up with an almost disorienting quickness as the singer, Fran (played by Sonja Kinski) becomes a fast lover and unleashes all of her baggage onto Colson. A scorned lover, a brother, a pimp, and an art gallery hostess all play minor roles in Colson’s life as his art gets better, but his existence becomes messy and complicated. It is a twisted story of love and everything that comes with it, that is extreme enough to be fiction, but rooted in possibility.
The script has some issues, from awkward lines to the pacing. So much is left to the viewer to interpret and observe, but some of it is a little gratuitous. The beginning had the most issues for me, having to accept that Fran immediately bought into Colson’s advances- but of course, this is one of those films where you have to watch the whole thing to get the gratification of the twist ending. With so many complications, some characters get left in the lurch- especially the character of the scorned lover Clarissa (played by the enigmatic Rachel Blanchard), who also happens to be the keyboard player in Fran’s band. Colson left her wanting more from him before quickly moving on to Fran, and we are supposed to believe that Fran is a better woman than Clarissa. Its the tried and true story of a good guy mentality wanting to fix the broken, bad girl character, and not paying attention to the sweetheart who actually cared about him. Also, Colson’s brother, Sam (played by the impeccable Lucas Till), is attached at his hip, video taping everything as it happens. He is a talented actor, but this script didn’t utilize all of his potential as the rough sidekick until the ending.
The music is an obvious major part of the film, with a mix of strong female rock and a suspenseful score. It adds to what the script cannot carry, and fills in the voids, much like the blood Colson uses to fill in the missing pieces in his paintings. Of course, this makes sense with some of the songs featuring Shirley Manson (lead singer of Garbage) and Gabriel McNair (from No Doubt). The music plays beautifully along with the distinct visuals, for which some of the scenes truly stand out. In the penultimate scene, Colson, Fran, and Sam head off into the desert to dispose of Colson’s cost for his artistry, and although the dialogue is heavy and important to the film, the location truly makes that scene work. The isolation, the desolation, and the remarkable coloring play into the tone of the scene and encourage the viewer to truly be in that moment with the characters.
Would I watch this film again? Yes! In order to capture the ambiances of Colson’s work and some of the more subtle moments that progress into big blow ups between the characters, this film definitely needs repeated viewing.