Map of the Human Heart (1992)
Rhapsodically careening between the icy Arctic, the fire-bombed ruins of Dresden, the majestic Albert Hall, and the furrowed brow of cameo player John Cusack, Vincent Ward's Map of the Human Heart is not your everyday romance. Then again, this is the same New Zealand director who, in The Navigator, presented us with medieval folks literally tunneling their way into the 20th century. Here, Ward and screenwriter Louis Nowra are content with merely spanning the 30-year transglobal love between an Eskimo named Avik (Robert Joamie as young Avik; Jason Scott Lee as the adult version) and a French Canadian/Indian named Albertine (Annie Galipeau/Anne Parillaud.) Early on, young Avrik is befriended by famed mapmaker Walter (Patrick Bergin), who kindly ships the ailing boy to a Montreal hospital, where he meets and falls for fiery-cute Albertine. The two separate, Avik grows up to become a bomber pilot (it's World War II), reunites with Albertine in London, but alas! She's involved with Walter! OK--pretty Harlequin stuff. And Miramax's post-production cuts don't help matters, continuity-wise. But Ward's nervy presentation of individual love as being integral to world-changing events, and his unfailing eye for the Big Shot (the lovers embracing atop a screen-filling observation balloon, for example) combine to create a magic-realism romance that, incredibly, manages to live up to such a description.