Hearts in Atlantis

"OK"

Hearts in Atlantis Review


The entire time I spent watching the latest Stephen King big-screen adaptation Hearts in Atlantis, I had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something was missing. All the key elements of a potentially great film were present -- authentic-looking 1960s Americana scenery, great acting by Anthony Hopkins and newcomer Anton Yelchin (Delivering Milo), an intriguing story line, and strong directing by Scott Hicks. And then, at the end of the film, it just hit me like a sap across the back of the neck.

One common recurring narrative in many of King's better-known novel-to-screen adaptations -- such as Stand by Me, The Green Mile, and The Shawshank Redemption -- incorporates an older gentleman recalling his youth or a life-changing incident of his life. Hearts in Atlantis follows this to a tee. After learning of a childhood friend's death, a middle-aged photographer Robert Garfield (David Morse) ventures back to his hometown for the funeral. Upon arrival, Robert recalls memories of youth and of one innocent, fateful summer when a mysterious man named Ted Brautigan (Hopkins) entered his life and changed it forever.

At the beginning of summer, old Teddy rents the studio apartment on the upper floor of his childhood home. During his stay, Teddy displays the usual, weird behavioral traits of all King characters. He's a strange gent who carries his belongings around in brown paper bags; says the kookiest things about young love, life as a kid, and the pains of growing old; appears as a mythical figure in times of crisis; and carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Lonely little boy Bobby Garfield (Yelchin) takes a liking to Teddy because his mother (Hope Davis) is a workaholic who spends more money on dresses than birthday presents and his father is dead. During the summer, Bobby falls in love and shares his first kiss with the neighborhood girl, Carol Gerber (Mika Boorem), endures the trials of defending his honor from the neighborhood bullies, pines for a bicycle in the local convenience store, and discovers Teddy's mysterious gift of seeing beyond the world. Bobby is then entrusted with informing and somehow protecting Teddy from the Low Men, dangerous ruthless faceless characters who drive fancy cars and cast long shadows, who are hunting for Teddy because of his unique "gift."

All of these circumstances would have made the film a success except for one damning thing. Everything -- from the unrequited love of two childhood sweethearts to the emotional abuse of a lonely boy -- feels so recognizable and indistinguishable from all of the previous works that deal with these similar themes. I kept catching myself remembering parts from Stand By Me and even The Goonies. It's a shame, because the film looks great from a technical standpoint and both Hopkins and Yelchin pull off great performances. In the end, though, the film feels cheap and used up -- like watching a two-hour Hallmark special. You feel guilty for even liking the good parts.

Even the message of Hearts in Atlantis becomes lost in the emotional manipulation by both the characters and story. Instead of giving the audience the ability to develop its own emotional ties to the film's narrative and personalities, the script dictates pre-defined moments of trepidation, intrigue, anguish, sadness, loneliness, and frustration by the obvious flow of the characters' dialogue and the film's plot points. One key example is when Hopkins details the story of a once-great football player winning one last game for the home team. So much deliberation is given to this scenario that we all but expect the main character of the story to have to overcome a challenging obstacle in his own life. It's a desperate manipulation, and it has a totally opposite effect: In the end, you can care less what happens to Teddy or his little friend.

I ate his perm, with fava beans...



Hearts in Atlantis

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th September 2001

Box Office USA: $23.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $24.2M

Budget: $31M

Distributed by: Warner Bros.

Production compaines: Castle Rock Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 67 Rotten: 68

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ted Brautigan, as Robert 'Bobby' Garfield, as Elizabeth 'Liz' Garfield, as Carol Gerber, as Adult Bobby Garfield, as Monte Man, as Len Files, as Alana Files

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.