Retro Review: Hearts in Atlantis

“What would happen if you were visited by a mysterious stranger and that stranger held a gift? And he wanted to share that gift with you.”

“Hearts In Atlantis” is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. The story takes place when times were innocent and a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves into a room above, Elisabeth Garfield, a single mother (Hope Davis) and her 11 year old son, Bobby (Anton Yelchin). Elisabeth is dealing with the death of her husband and the debt he left behind. She seems to have given up on her son and often pushes him away. Bobby absorbs himself in his friends and begins to strike up a curious relationship with Ted.

Ted offers Bobby a job where he must read the newspaper to Ted everyday. Bobby hopes with his new job he can afford to buy that bike he has always wanted.

Bobby and Ted’s relationship will be tested as mysterious circumstances begin to surround Ted and his world. But no matter what, they wouldn’t have ever missed these incredible times.

“Hearts in Atlantis” is one of those enduring coming of age stories that really makes you yearn to be 11 years old again. Scriptwriter William Goldman embraces this story through the eyes of Bobby and never really fleshes out the mysterious Ted. This element is utterly brilliant because this story is Bobby’s. The writer maintains the viewpoint of the child and we see Ted through Bobby’s eyes. No matter what his flaw is it doesn’t matter through the eyes of innocence.

The performance of Hopkins and Davis really make their characters come to life. Davis steers head long into a tormented woman who must have been a challenge to play. Davis does deserve an Oscar look for her portrayal of Elisabeth Garfield. Her portrayal is so strong of the mother that her dominance almost over-shadows Hopkins. However I do wonder if Hopkins wanted to flesh Ted out more as he played him. Did Hopkins want to unravel Ted like how the character was handled in the novel?

When talking about this film you have to talk about the child actors as well. I don’t know how Hollywood finds so many wonderful child actors all the time.

Anton Yelchin (Bobby) delivers a performance that reminded me a lot of Henry Thomas from “E.T: The Extra Terrestrial” or a younger Elijah Wood. Yelchin shows a range at such a young age and it isn’t often we see it in someone so young. I really liked this kid and it will be interesting to see if he becomes an Elijah or fade away like a Henry.

Tragically “Hearts in Atlantis” cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski died in March of 2001 but his final photography captures beautiful scenes from the warmth of innocence to the darkness of film noir.

Piotr Sobocinski was a fine craftsman and he will be sadly missed. Sobocinski also photographed such films as “Angel Eyes”, “Twilight”, “Marvin’s Room” and “Ransom”. But in my opinion his last American film was his finest achievement.

“Hearts in Atlantis” is one of those films that the whole family can watch and talk about afterwards because in its core that’s what the film is trying to convey. Family is everything. “Hearts” could be one of the best films of the year.

(4.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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