Review: Hearts in Atlantis

The film solidifies Scott Hicks’s rank as one of Hollywood’s most visually evocative power-players.

Hearts in Atlantis
Photo: Warner Bros.

Dipped in the honey of late cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski’s palette, Hearts in Atlantis solidifies Scott Hicks’s rank as one of Hollywood’s most visually evocative power-players. The film is remarkably composed: characters are defined by their strict relationship to doorways and mirrors and light seems to takes on a life of its own. Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) is a man capable of seeing into the future, on the run from a mysterious lot of “low men” seeking to tap into his mysterious gift. Taking sanctuary in the home of Elizabeth Garfield (Hope Davis) and her son, Bobby (Anton Yelchin), Ted seemingly becomes a passive prisoner to Hick’s compositions. Hick’s visual evocation of Stephen King’s novel is somewhat vulgar yet the film is alive with history and ripe with possibilities. Nonetheless, William Goldman’s bare bones adaptation of King’s story is lazy at best, reducing life in the film to a series of cliched incidents. Elizabeth’s physical abuse is inexplicably linked to a little girl’s shoulder dislocation. Is this how Goldman negotiates the role of women in the ’60s? Even worse: Harry (Timothy Reifsnyder) stops teasing Bobby and his young girlfriend, Carol (Mika Boorem), when Ted reads the bully’s mind and threatens to tell the world he’s gay. Hicks beautifully celebrates Bobby’s summoned strength when he has to come to the aid of a hurt Carol yet the film’s characters are never less than victims of an uncertain time and place, not to mention Goldman’s sexual politics. Noble yet vague, Hearts in Atlantis is still beautiful to look at.

 Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem, David Morse, Dierdre O'Connell, Bourke Floyd  Director: Scott Hicks  Screenwriter: William Goldman  Distributor: Warner Bros.  Running Time: 105 min  Rating: PG-13  Year: 2001  Buy: Video, Soundtrack, Book

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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