Directed by: Scott Hicks
Written By: William Goldman
Based On The Book By: Stephen King
A middle aged man (David Morose) returns home after the news of a childhood friend passing away. What he finds is a block of memories unvisited for some time. It was a special time in his life after the turn of his eleventh birthday, and it changed his life forever. Bobby, (Anton Yelchin) Carol (Mika Boorem), and Sully (Will Rothaar) spend a magical summer full of fun together. Bobby lives with his mother (Hope Davis), a widow who is still bitter five years after her husbands death and constantly reminds Bobby of it. A new elderly man named Ted (Anthony Hopkins), moves into the neighborhood and befriends Bobby and his comrades. He is a very different man, but it isn’t long before he takes Bobby under his wing. He shares very little about his secretive past, only asking Bobby to watch out for the “low-men”, who are bad men. It isn’t long before their summer of self discovery and fun comes to a very abrupt end.
This gentle story contains a mysticism that influences the lives of one boy and one aging man and the people in the boys life. Scott Hicks takes the livelihood of the youth and exemplifies it’s most exposed innocence and freedom. With an overall feeling that in the darkness of reality, magical things happen, the film encourages to hope and to dream, but still live with your eyes wide open and really see. It shows how one youthful summer can change your life forever.
Down to the smallest details time and care was taken to develop the characters of this story. From Carol commenting to Bobby that his mother has money to buy dresses all the time to his mother repeating the same story of his father over and over again as though she was convincing herself he was to blame for everything wrong in their lives. Her vanity and selfishness was only exposed in small doses, but painted the picture of her quite vividly. It’s her rejection of Bobby’s needs that sends him in search for comfort elsewhere. When he meets his new neighbor Ted, he quickly becomes attached to him as Ted listens and engages quite earnestly with Bobby. When each realize the other is like them, they become even closer. The connection created is immediate and done through Anthony Hopkins playing his role of a genuine man, who may not be what he seems, but is intriguing and his goodness obvious, though only shown through subtleties, such as offering Bobby a dollar to read to him, because he can’t “see” well. While the supporting roles push the movie along, it is Hopkins who carries the film. It seems whatever role Hopkins takes on anymore is just brilliant. He is a master of his craft.
The friendship developed between Carol and Bobby reflects the innocence of youth throughout the film. The joy of their friendship and the excitement after that first kiss “by which all others will be measured” defined Hearts In Atlantis entirely. When things begin to spiral out of control, it is those scenes of a free and beautiful summer that defines the contrast of things not so light and happy even more clearly. By the final scenes, night and darkness is the back round. The sunny days of naivete no more.
Hearts in Atlantis is a splendor into a youth of days gone by, but never forgotten. It is a joyful movie to watch and an enticing journey to reflect on afterwards. I think Ted’s greatest gift in the film was not to see what was to come, but to see things through the eyes of the young and untainted mind, and remember what it felt like. He saw what was special in each of them, whether it be the heart of a lion, or another one who had learned to “see”. A beautiful film. Three and a Half out of Four Stars.