Break of Hearts

Break of Hearts ★★★

By no means a ‘great picture’ but not just the halfhearted melodrama lots of these reviews are making it out to be.
The plot is certainly rushed—we speed through the central relationship, to marriage, to adultery, to separation, in a manner which makes you somewhat wish the bizarrely short hour and a quarter run time was even just twenty minutes longer. But this is at points used to great effect: the jump cut to Reno court signage is particularly funny. 
Hepburn is playing a distinctly unHepburn role—unlike her 40s roles, at least. But she plays it well, the young ingenue who doesn’t have the buffer of inordinate east coast wealth to take the stakes out of her romance: Constance is a young woman who works, who specifies she has REALLY worked, and whose love affair and the exiting from a marriage with a wealthy famous conductor actually feels pained. There are a number of close ups that are dealt with so wonderful, and watching her realisation in the Ritz powder room that her husband is unfaithful is a sincere and tender moment, in a film with an otherwise less convincing love plot.
There’s also something to be said for the climactic concert, in which a drunken Franz arrives late and performs erratically, shocking an audience into silence; it seems to prefigure the Oscars scene in A Star is Born, and the wounded wife watching her husband trigger his own fall from fame, and from marital happiness.

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