"Foolish Heart" is a handsomely directed, well-acted, but pretentiously scripted series of interconnected stories about love and betrayal. Among the highlights are performances by Sarah Strange (in a dual role as two very different cynical writers) and Arsinee Khanjian (as an Armenian cleaning woman trying to keep her son out of jail). As well, the very talented Patricia O'Callaghan gets to sing several great cabaret-style numbers, including the title song.
Unfortunately, writer/director/star Ken Finkleman seems to be labouring under the delusion that if his characters talk endlessly about Chekhov, his script will itself be on a Chekhovian plane. Accordingly, Finkleman drops in more references to Great Dead Intellectual Authors in a single half-hour episode than Woody Allen would able to shoehorn into his next five films. Finkleman then desperately tries to make his script "critic-proof" by having characters continually accuse Finkleman's writer/director character of writing that is hackneyed, pretentious and naive; Finkleman's responses are meant to enlighten us to the fact that what we are watching is Art, dammit, and that anyone who disagrees is clearly a vulgarian. "Gosh, Ken," we're meant to say, "you're an intellectual guy who's read Tolstoy -- how could anyone possibly disagree with your artistic opinion?"
Well, I've read Tolstoy, too, and ultimately, despite several worthwhile moments, "Foolish Heart" stops well short of being "War and Peace". Finkleman spends more time trying to fend off his detractors than he does in creating his Art, and the show quickly devolves into a talky, self-referential mess. If you want my advice, Ken, next time answer your critics by creating material that involves as well as enlightens, and that's universal as well as personal. Sure it's difficult...but if you go back and re-read Tolstoy, Chekhov and all the other Great Dead Intellectual Authors, they'll show you how to go about it.
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