Norman Kaye is a delight as Peter, the 50ish piano tuner with a whimsical streak who meets shy, sheltered single Patricia (Wendy Hughes), a woman 20 years his junior, through a dating service. This unlikely couple hits it off right away, much to the disapproval of her smothering parents.
Lonely Hearts begins as Mrs. Thompson's funeral degenerates into farce - the mourners lose the hearse. Returning to his gloomy family home, Peter Thompson suddenly confronts his loneliness. A few weeks off 50, he still wears an atrocious toupee and his closest emotional attachment is to a dachshund. Painfully aware of what he considers to be the futility of his existence, he decides to embark upon an adventure. He goes to a lonely hearts’ club and pays for 'an introduction'. He is shown the photograph of a comparatively young and attractive woman. On being reassured that Patricia wants an older man, he invests in a new toupee. For Patricia, also a victim of a smothering family, their first meeting requires some courage. Painfully shy and sexually inhibited, she embarks on a tentative relationship with Peter. She becomes traumatized by his first clumsy attempt at love-making. Previously elated, Peter is now tormented and desperate. Patricia rejects his attempt to explain, he has a grotesque encounter with a prostitute, and some clumsy shoplifting leads to his arrest and public humiliation. When Patricia finally goes to his aid, it's as much a declaration of independence from her domineering parents as a declaration of love.
Lonely Hearts is a sensitive love story simply told, but with a rich vein of compassion and humour.