Resurfaced: Hearts in Atlantis (2001)

In this series of articles, I’ll be posting reviews that have recently resurfaced. A number of the reviews I wrote in the past I thought had been lost to time, but after coming to a realization that they might still exist on the Wayback Machine, I was able to relocate many of them. I believe there are still some that are lost and they may be lost in perpetuity, but I will periodically search for that data or re-write those reviews that I have never found or which I never wrote to begin with.

For now, this series will be extensive with over 300 regular (400+ words), short (400- words), and quickie (1 to 2 paragraphs) reviews. I will attempt to combine them as best as I can. Reviews written in early 1998 or earlier, no date of creation exists. I will post the original writing date where known, otherwise the date will be listed as “unknown.” These reviews were written between the date of my site’s founding in 1996 through much of 2002. It was only after this period that I settled on the standard format and length of reviews as well as posting each one to its own individual page, which is why the old data was ultimately lost.

All but the review content has been replaced to match my current formatting guidelines, which are a bit more thorough than they might have been in those early days. Please note that I am attempting to retain as much of the original editing integrity as possible, so spelling and/or grammar errors may still be present. This may also mean that some factual data is not there as IMDb was not as ubiquitous as it is now. So, let’s get on to today’s review.

Hearts in Atlantis

Hearts in Atlantis

Rating

Director

Scott Hicks

Screenplay

William Goldman (Book: Stephen King)

Length

1h 41m

Starring

Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem, David Morse, Alan Tudyk, Tom Bower, Celia Weston, Adam LeFevre, Will Rothhaar, Timmy Reifsnyder, Deirdre O’Connell

MPAA Rating

PG-13

Buy/Rent Movie

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

The latest feature film adaptation of a Stephen King novel finds Anthony Hopkins as a mysterious stranger in Scott Hicks’ “Hearts in Atlantis.”

When artist Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his home town and finds his old home run down and abandoned, he reminisces about the day he met the mysterious Ted Brautigan (Hopkins). As a child, Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his mother, Liz (Hope Davis), were forced to move around a lot and find themselves in another new town where they hope to stay for awhile.

They decide to take in a tenant and Ted answers the call. He takes quick favor to Bobby, offering him the opportunity to read him the newspaper daily for money. The two form a tight friendship and when Bobby is approached by some unusual men, Ted tells Bobby briefly about his mysterious past and that those men were out looking for him, going so far as to seek him through Lost Dog posters and other secret means.

“Hearts in Atlantis” acts like the fairy tale its name inspires. Bobby trusts his heart to someone who, one day will have to leave him. Emotionally, Ted is the father Bobby doesn’t have and acts as a central figure in his life. His mother doesn’t completely trust Ted, but allows the relationship to grow despite early misgivings.

Hopkins plays a simple, loving man with little outward emotional baggage. He attempts to create sympathy through a character that seems flat and detached. On the other side, young Yelchin does an admirable job of maintaining his character’s naiveté and emotional centeredness. Davis, too, manages to breathe life into her role as a mistrusting mother. Mika Boorem plays Bobby’s eventual romantic interest Carol and keeps her wits about her like no one else in the film. An exceptional juvenile performance, Boorem has director Hicks to thank.

Hicks, whose previous outings were for the films “Shine” and “Snow Falling on Cedars.” “Shine” was a brilliant directorial achievement while “Atlantis” is merely an acceptable effort with some acting challenges and a slow, but interesting screenplay. Perhaps the necessitous nature of Hopkins role as the core of the plot makes it all the more important for him to be a little larger than life. Hicks, however, seems to see things differently looking for a more simple, unobtrusive character that’s easily loveable and credible. To an extent Hopkins delivers this, but the character is still not as interesting as it needs to be.

The design elements of the film hearken back to the style of the previous King adaptation “Stand by Me.” The era is virtually similar and the visual balance between the two is undeniable.

King’s books are the most adapted of any modern author and one of the most adapted of any author since mystery novelist Agatha Christie. The modern master of horror certainly captures an essence of his genre that keep audiences watching, but when those themes are transported onto the screen, they tend to lose the magic. The small screen has been more immune to the effects with outstanding miniseries adaptations like “It,” “The Stand” and “The Shining,” while film has had some hits like “The Shining” and “Misery,” but far more failures like “Needful Things” and “The Green Mile.”

“Hearts in Atlantis” certainly doesn’t stand in the pantheons of great adaptations, but it also isn’t one of the worst. An able adaptation, “Atlantis” will appeal to audiences of all ages, even without King’s traditional gore factor.

Review Written

April 25, 2002

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