A feminist streak informs Rod McCall’s directorial feature debut Paper Hearts, a modest, sensitive and often touching family drama that poignantly dissects the effects of a dissolving marriage.
Sally Kirkland stars as Jenny Stevenson, an attractive, middle-aged woman separated from her scoundrel womanizer of a husband, Henry (James Brolin), who left her a mountain of debts. Jenny tries to hold onto the house she inherited, now on the verge of foreclosure.
The family’s disparate members reunite for one stormy and fateful weekend, during which Kirkland’s youngest daughter (Renee Estevez) gets married. Brolin is actually scheming to get the house. The oldest daughter (Pamela Gidley), a music student in New York, also shows up.
McCall acquits himself better as writer than as director, endowing his story with a coherent female point of view. The moody, often somber film consists of brief scenes, usually confrontations between two characters. Regrettably, the big climactic scene is overly melodramatic.