Review Date: September 20, 2001
Director: Scott Hicks
Writer: William Goldman
Producers: Kerry Heysen
Anthony Hopkins as Ted Brautigan
Anton Yelchin as Bobby Garfield
Hope Davis as Elizabeth Garfield
Basically, it was a disappointment. Sure, some of its elements were spot-on. Hopkins was rock solid as the mystery man, the little boy was perfect and delivered the goods in both his happy and sad moments, as did Mika Boorem as Carol, his "girlfriend" in the day. The cinematography and the innocence of the time were also captured idealistically and damn, if that wasn't one of the grooviest soundtracks of the year (very Sinatra-esque). But the bottom line with most films is their story and this one just didn't deliver. It also featured a very one-dimensional mother character, whom we try to understand, but are given no reasons to appreciate in any way. We also get an explanation as to Hopkins' character at some point in the film, but when all is said and done, it doesn't really seem to be that relevant to the picture as a whole. I mean, whether or not he is what he is, has little to do with the major drive of the film, so why build so much into it in the first place? I don't know, I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think the director did a good job of balancing the different elements here, and had my focus going one way, when really the film wasn't so much about that, then it was something else (I'm trying not to spoil anything here, so bear with my babbling).
Of course, I'm more than willing to admit that perhaps I didn't "get" the undertones in this movie, or that there was some kind of "deeper meaning" behind it all, but the bottom line with the film is that it just didn't bring anything new to the table, especially when placed against much greater and comparable films like STAND BY ME (which was also based on a Stephen King story). Then again, I didn't care for THE GREEN MILE either, and most folks seemed to like that, so being in the same vein as that flick, you might want to check this one out just the same, if you enjoyed the latter. Overall, this film provides for solid acting, a fun soundtrack and wonderful atmosphere, but very little of resonance or freshness.
And what the heck does HEARTS IN ATLANTIS mean, you might be asking? Well, other than the fact that it reminds me of that mediocre Disney flick from this summer, it's apparently something to do with youth and love, but I challenge you to decipher that one when the film is done. It's a game in itself.