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Hearts in Atlantis

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Hearts in Atlantis

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Hope Davis
Director: Scott Hicks
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 101 Minutes
Release Date: September 2001
Genres: Drama, Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: David Morse, Mika Boorem, Anton Yelchin, Dierdre O'Connell

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

HEARTS IN ATLANTIS is a sweet, touching and rather usual film that is based on a Stephen King novel. No, it's not a horror movie. But, what is it exactly? As the story evolves with quiet power, it is never clear where it is going or what kind of movie it will become. A low-key foreboding serves more as part of the ambiance than as a hint of the future. If the movie, directed by Scott Hicks (SHINE) and written by William Goldman (BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID), must be characterized, it might be as STAND BY ME 2.

The well cast film is a character study that revolves around relationships. The central character, 11-year-old Bobby Garfield (Anton Yelchin), is a fatherless kid with a self-centered mother (Hope Davis), who squanders the family's meager income on her fancy wardrobe. One day in the early 1960s, his life is transformed by a boarder, Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins), who comes to live in the apartment above them. A generous and mysterious man, Ted becomes a father figure for Bobby. Something of a scholar, Ted loves quoting famous figures and sharing his own quotable thoughts with Bobby and his friends. The most prophetic of these is, "Sometimes when you're young, you have moments of such happiness, you think you're living in someplace magical, like Atlantis must have been. Then we grow up, and our hearts are broken in two."

Bobby is at a key transitional moment in his life. His view of the opposite sex is moving from the "yuck" phase to the time when he would love to kiss a girl but would never admit it. Luckily for him, one of his best pals, Carol, just happens to be female. Young love has rarely been shot with more honesty and delicacy. The late Piotr Sobocinski's cinematography of Bobby and Carol at a local carnival park is sheer magic. Sobocinski, a second-generation cinematographer, is best known for his Oscar nominated work on Krzysztof Kieslowski's RED.

The scene-stealer in HEARTS IN ATLANTIS is Mika Boorem, who plays Carol. It is the sort of performance that will have you scratching your head wondering where you have seen her before. The answer is that she was in THE PATRIOT and both she and Yelchin were in ALONG CAME A SPIDER. The camera loves her, and she delivers a dead-on performance. The more important question is whether producers will recognize her potential and give her the parts she deserves so that she becomes the next Meg Ryan and not the next Molly Ringwald.

HEARTS IN ATLANTIS runs 1:41. It is rated PG-13 for "violence and thematic elements," and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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