Hearts In Atlantis

Review Date:
Director: Scott Hicks
Writer: William Goldman
Producers: Kerry Heysen
Anthony Hopkins as Ted Brautigan, Anton Yelchin as Bobby Garfield, Hope Davis as Elizabeth Garfield
A strange old man comes to live in a small town with secrets from the past. He befriends a young boy whose mom is extremely selfish, and offers him advice on love, life and girls. But where does this man come from? What’s with all the mystery? Does this movie have any real point? Find out below…
A movie which obviously means well, but doesn’t really provide the needed “oomph” to back up its mysterious build-up. Not the kind of movie that you should watch when you’re sleepy, that’s fer sure (unless you wanna fall asleep, of course). It moves at a slow pace, gives you hints of stuff here and there, clues behind some of its vagueness but ultimately very little to sustain its well-established ominous potential. You wait, you wait, you wait…and watch Anthony Hopkins and Anton Yelchin develop an interesting relationship throughout, watch as exquisite shots of nostalgia and youth pass before your eyes, but there’s always something telling you that there’s gotta be more behind all of this, a hint of spirituality, a lining of depth, a greater love or something, but ultimately…well, it just never comes. The ending is too “ho-hum” and doesn’t give you anything more than what it is, which is basically just a…coming-of-age story? I hoped that this movie would hit me emotionally, hoped that it would have me wondering aloud, hoped that I might recognize something in it, which I had never seen in any other movie before, but this film just didn’t provide any of that.

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.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Hearts in Atlantis



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