Paper Hearts

Director: Rod McCall
Screenwriters: Rod McCall

Institute History

  • 1993 Sundance Film Festival


A regional film set in the vast romantic landscape of New Mexico, Paper Hearts is a lyrical story about the unsettling emotional battlefield between men and women. Jenny Stevenson (Sally Kirkland) is about to lose her beautiful old family home to the bank. After years of marriage, her scoundrel husband, Henry (James Brolin), has left her with a stack of bills and a broken heart. It’s the weekend of her eldest daughter's wedding, and Jenny is determined not to let anything go wrong. But Henry wouldn't miss this event for the world. He shows up, late, and the trouble begins. As Henry tries to manipulate Jenny out of the marriage and the house, their youngest daughter, Samantha, investigates her own suspicions about her father. In discovering the truth about Henry, she learns a lot about herself. She also helps her mother find the will to fight back and the strength to go on alone.

Paper Hearts is a wonderfully sensitive exploration of the dilemma of A woman facing life without a man for the first time. Having defined her life by the construct of marriage, Jenny must face her husband's philandering and define her own sense of self. In contrasting Jenny's lack of confidence with Samantha's independence, filmmaker Rod McCall reveals many characteristics of the generation gap yawning between women who became adults before and after the feminist movement of the seventies. Samantha is truly a modern woman, aggressive in pursuing and controlling her relationships. Jenny at first only passively observes Samantha's spirit. but then appears to drink it in and use it for her own nourishment. Also typical of contemporary women, Samantha has chosen to leave her hometown for the city. She is more worldly than her mother and brings the strength of her experience into their relationship McCall expresses this as positive, but doesn't minimize the remorse which follows leaving home. Swelling with emotion and soothing as a country-and-western song, Paper Hearts is an accomplished, well-made film.

Friday Jan 22 3:00 pm
Prospector Square Theatre

Saturday Jan 23 8:00 pm
Sundance Screening Room

Sunday Jan 24 1:15 pm
Holiday Village Cinema II

Wednesday Jan 27 10:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

Friday Jan 21 10:15 am
Holiday Village Cinema II


— Catherine Schulman

Screening Details

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