Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands are the older couple thinking of breaking up.
Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillippe are two bright young things disillusioned with modern living who spark off each other but play hurtful games.
Ellen Burstyn plays a mother caring for dying Jay Mohr, while lonely architect Jon Stewart struggles to win the heart of Gillian Anderson.
Poor old Dennis Quaid doesn't even get someone to rub up against, just a succession of martini glasses.
Combine these stars with a Los Angeles milieu of neon and late nights, photographed by veteran cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Deliverance), and you have a setting which already hits the right mood.
The film works on various levels: individual couples have their own journeys to undergo before they reach understanding. And taken as a whole, the stories represent an unusual patchwork of compassion, emotion and humanity, qualities which rarely make it past the Hollywood moneymen.
With a range of credible episodes and powerful performances, there is a story in "Playing By Heart" which will appeal to every age.