"Hearts in Exile" is a dated, convoluted melodrama, but it's not all bad for what it is. Such flawed melodramas were typical back then, and I've seen better and worse than this. My main interest in anticipation of viewing, besides being part of my search to see a lot of old silent movies, was that it stars Clara Kimball Young. She was a rather big star in the silent era, and I found her role in another 1915 film, "Trilby", to be interesting. Set in Russia, "Hearts in Exile" begins with a peaceful love triangle among charity workers, which becomes a tragic love rectangle with the addition of police chief Nickolai. He arranges for Young's husband to be unjustly imprisoned in a Siberian work camp. All of this happens because everyone is in love with Clara Kimball Young. The painful situation of our three leads begins to be relieved only after the play briefly becomes a love pentagon, as a woman becomes jealous over Nickolai's desire for Young.
This narrative is sensationalism with convoluted turns common of old-fashioned soap operas. There are too many lurking eavesdroppers. The acting is broad and theatrical, including Young, and her role here isn't as interesting as hers was in "Trilby". But, the acting doesn't matter much when the camera is stationary, with few close-ups and lacking varied camera perspectives. On the other hand, the film achieves a decent pacing cutting back and forth between the various plots. There's a couple near match cuts on the action between Nickolai and Serge, the husband, smoking. Additionally, there are so many melodramatics going on that it's admittedly somewhat intriguing--at least for those familiar with the genre.
(Note: This is the first feature-length film I've watched via download from the Internet, and it's an undesirable means of viewing a film due to the loss of picture quality. Unfortunately, the video from which the film was uploaded onto the web seems to be out-of-print. I certainly prefer and recommend theatrical and home video viewing, but such options aren't always accessible.)
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