PG-13 for "violence and thematic elements
Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem, David Morse,
Scott Hicks (Snow Falling on Cedars,
Bruce Berman, Michael
Novel by Stephen King
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Hearts in Atlantis
By Marisa Scheckel
CBN.com - Synopsis:
Hearts in the Atlantis is a film adaptation of best-selling
author Steven King's book of the same title. Several King novels have
successfully transitioned to the big screen, notably Stand by Me,
The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile. Like these
previous efforts, Hearts in Atlantis is set in a mythical golden
past with King's characteristic touch of the supernatural.
Hearts in Atlantis opens in the present day with photographer
Robert Garfield (David Morse) attending the funeral of a childhood friend.
While visiting his old house, now derelict, he flashbacks to the year
he was 11. The remainder of the movie explores his relationship with
his two close childhood friends, his mother, and the mysterious man
who moves upstairs, Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins).
Young Bobby Garfield (Anton Yelchin) lives
with his young widowed mother (Hope Davis), who struggles to support
herself and her son with a secretarial job. Bobby desperately wants
a bike for his birthday, though his mother constantly reminds him, "Your
father didn't leave us exactly well off" despite the fact she manages
to wear expensive new dresses "for the office". When Bobby opens his
present to reveal an adult library card, he is initially disappointed,
but the cryptic Mr. Brautigan encourages Bobby to enjoy reading. He
even offers to give Bobby money for reading the paper to him and for
watching for the mysterious "Low Men". At first, Bobby thinks Mr. Brautigan
is making up the "Low Men," but it's obvious there is something very
odd about Mr. Brautigan. He occasionally goes into a catatonic state
and seems to know what people are thinking. However, Bobby is preoccupied
with his two friends, Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully (Will Rothhaar).
The three are practically inseparable and travel everywhere together.
Bobby even has a crush on Carol, the solitary female in the group. As
the summer progresses, the relationship between the friends changes
drastically as they start to leave childhood behind.
Hearts in Atlantis is a very character-driven
film. The changing dynamics of Bobby's relationship with his mother,
his buddies, and Mr. Brautigan as he starts to mature are the real story,
not any exciting adventure. However, there is suspense, too: Mr. Brautigan's
"Low Men" do make an appearance and Bobby involves himself in the resulting
conflict. Like Stand by Me, the plot is only the surface of the
The rating for this film is PG-13 for "violence and thematic elements".
What types of themes are worthy of a PG-13 rating? Glad you asked! Most
of the violence in Hearts in Atlantis is limited to just one
scene, but it deals with a woman being raped, which might have garnered
an R rating if it had been handled more graphically. There are also
several references to possible sexual abuse of children by adults throughout
the film, so, despite the fact that children have the lead roles, it
is not necessarily appropriate for other children to watch. The slower
pace of the film is also more suited to adult taste, and I doubt many
younger teens would enjoy the nostalgic look at childhood.
The slow pace is characteristic of other works by director Scott Hicks,
and while appropriate to the subject matter, it hardly improves the
film either. The movie slows to a halt as Hicks treats the audience
to several sappy montages of the group of friends involved in idyllic
scenes of innocent fun. But while the movie crawls, at least it's pretty;
the cinematography by Piotr Sobocinski gives the film a warmth that
enhances the feel-good story.
Oscar-winning writer William Goldman did a fair job of scripting the
screenplay, based on Steven King's book of the same name. The coming-of-age
genre is hard to do right, and even harder to do well. The talented
Goldman sadly did not hit a home run this round. It's never very clear
exactly what gifts Ted Brautigan has, partly because they're different
every time. However, the adventure part of the tale is carefully foreshadowed
and there are some wonderful character moments in an otherwise lackluster
Actor Anthony Hopkins delivers a subtle, nuanced performance -- perhaps
a little too subtle. Compared to his usual over-the-top acting, he seems
flat. However, he is hardly the star of the film. That honor goes to
youngster Anton Yelchin. There have been a few child actors that are
so amazing that they manage to outshine the adults in the film. However,
Anton is not one of them. He does have the right mix of bright-eyed
wonder and cynicism, but like many child actors, is too brusque in scenes
that call for subtlety. Mika Boorem as Bobby's friend Carol is acceptable,
nothing standout, but the role doesn't call for it. Actress Hope Davis
as Bobby's mother is frankly a disappointment. She portrays her character
with shrillness, in a part that called for a tempered performance. The
standout of the cast is David Morse, in a small role as the adult Bobby
in the scenes that bookend the main story.
In conclusion, Hearts in Atlantis is one of those films that
is neither that good, nor exactly bad. It's merely pleasant. Moviegoers
who enjoyed such films as The Green Mile and the recent My
Dog Skip would probably also like Hearts in Atlantis.
However, the film tends to glorify children rebelling against parents,
and the various psychic phenomena are hardly scriptural. There is not
a distinct anti-Christian bias, but the story is told from a secular
worldview in which God is absent.
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