Roudy Roudebush, Ann Savoy, Marc Savoy,
Mosie Burks, Minnie Bates Yancey
Walt Disney Pictures
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America's Heart and
By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter
- Its Friday night, youre looking through the entertainment
section of the paper, searching for a film the whole family can enjoy.
You spot the ad for Americas Heart & Soul. Youve
heard of it. But, someone says, Its a documentary.
A documentary! you exclaim. Who wants to see a
documentary on a Friday night? So you pass onto the next advertisement.
Big mistake. Huge mistake.
At the press screening, I turned to a friend about midway through
the film and told her, I dont want this to end.
Thats something I have never said about a movie. Funny, moving,
insightful, breathtaking, inspiring, its everything you want
in a movie-going experience. Best of all, its a wonderful example
of how film can unite people.
A gifted documentarian, Louis Schwartzberg has packed up his camera
and hit the road, with a goal of capturing both the unparalleled beauty
of the U.S. and the incomparable spirit of its people. Unobtrusively,
the filmmaker delves into the lives of ordinary Americans, who just
so happen to have extraordinary stories, seamlessly blending their
values, dreams, and passions into a spirited and well-paced film-event.
In an era of reality programming that generally focuses
on the negative and cynical, Americas Heart & Soul
gives us a positive and powerful glimpse into the diversity of our
countrys citizenry. It celebrates our commonality our
innermost need to dream and to find our place.
of the vignettes will cause your sides to ache from laugher, while
others will bring a tear to your eye. Just to spotlight a very few:
Theres the aged gospel singer who joyfully proclaims, Im
a child of the King, as she prances across the stage, defying
her years; the Appalachian woman who profoundly, and rather poetically,
analyzes the human experience; the father/son team who enter a marathon,
the younger man suffering from ALS, the father professing, Im
the legs, hes the heart; the sculptor who collects junk,
calling it rusty gold and finding love and respect through
his art; the blind mountain climber who has a grateful appreciation
for what he has; and the salsa dancers who evidence the skill and
interpretation of dance.
The documentary also pays homage to our nations religious
beliefs, paying close attention to uplifting gospel music and several
visuals that spotlight the Christian faith, while still other portions
examine the eccentric, the inspiring and the emotional traits that
make up the mutt-like pedigree that is uniquely American.
Id suggest sharing this cinematic treasure with friends, half
the fun being the appreciative discussion during the drive home.
Note: The film is rated PG. I found nothing objectionable or
exploitive. The intent of the filmmaker is to present a positive view
of what America is and what it can become.
Phil Boatwright is the editor of The Movie Reporter. For more
information, visit www.moviereporter.com.
Review used by permission.
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