Urban Cinefile
"I think the Seventh Day Adventists are good people. They are just wrong on about 15 major counts"  -writer and film maker Bob Ellis
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



A widowed mother (Hope Davis) and her 11 year old son, Bobby (Anton Yelchin) find their lives changed after a stranger comes to rent a room in their house. The older man, Ted (Anthony Hopkins) befriends young Bobby, who responds warmly to this wise, kindly and yet mysterious man. His mum less so. Bobby and his best friend Carol (Mika Boorem) have a terrific summer, with Ted always prompting him, helping him see the world with open eyes. It’s not without incident of course, and Ted wants Bobby to always keep a lookout for Low Men in black cars… who one day turn up. All these exciting and strange days come flooding back when a grown up Bobby goes back home on the death of the third friend in the young trio, Sully (Will Rothaar).

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The satisfaction a film can give its audience is sometimes measured by the variety of ways in which it can be enjoyed, interpreted and debated. Hearts in Atlantis, for those who care to take the trouble, offers much to enjoy, a variety of interpretations – and probably some debate. What’s to enjoy: an intelligent script with some wonderful moments of observation, emotion and much economy; excellent and even performances from a vastly varied cast; outstanding production design; assured and calm direction. Interpretation options are many, of course, ranging from it being seen as another take on the stories of the out-of-town stranger come to change some lives, to seeing it as a coming of age film with some extra frills. But there is a simplicity to the story of an 11 year old boy’s discovery of the world through the strange eyes of a strange, elderly man whose wisdom seems to match his generosity of spirit – and his mystery. The debates may centre on the adaptation of King’s story: it’s a story in the book of that title, but the story of that title is not this story; and do the changes in the story (like alteration of aliens to psychics) work for the book’s readers. Above all, though, the personal response to a film like this is what matters: yours. It’s a film for movie lovers, not a computer action game on screen. Nor is it made by some sort of recipe. Scott Hicks himself admits its an odd film, and its oddness comes from the combination of Stephen King’s original ideas put through the blender of screen writer William Goldman and director Hicks. These towering talents have all contributed unique elements to the end result. And the end result shows us humanity and understanding, a glimpse of lives that are just like ours only different; hearts also beat in Atlantis….

Review by Louise Keller:
A simply beautiful film, Hearts in Atlantis is poignant from its child's perspective and compelling by the complexity of its beguiling themes. Scott Hicks has a great touch: he captures a mood, a reflective feeling coupled with nostalgia and the wonder of discovery from young eyes and a young heart. A gentle character driven narrative with a supernatural edge from Stephen King's novel, William Goldman's script drives the engine: this is a film that relies on good writing and execution. First and foremost the central characters are real. And we understand the town in which they live. When Ted asks Bobby 'Do you know everything that goes on in this town?', Bobby's reply 'nothing ever happens' tells it all. We share Bobby's special moments – from a first kiss on a Ferris wheel at night, to the significant mutual friendship with a grown-up, based on need. We are drawn to the characters, and Anthony Hopkins shows his mastery with another effortless and understated performance: we are drawn unequivocally to Ted – curious of his mystique, empathetic of his persona. Hopkins is truly one of the great actors of our time, and the task of finding a young boy to play the key role against him must have been a daunting one for the filmmakers. What a discovery they have made in Anton Yelchin, who simply lights up the screen. We feel the wonder and curiosity that his saucer eyes portray. Mika Boorem, as Bobby's first love is gorgeous – an irresistible flower about to bloom. Bobby's mother (Hope Davis, memorable) is portrayed as a child might remember his mother, in a stylised and less than real way. The Low Men theme adds a touch of mystique – a little supernatural theme similar to the one in The Green Mile - but without doubt, the film bears Hicks' distinctive stamp. We get a good sense of time and place with wonderful production design plus there's a great selection of tunes from the era of Fats Domino, The Platters, Frank Sinatra (Only You, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.) Just as the red, black, shiny bike revolving on a pedestal in the showroom is the symbol of a young boy's dreams, Hearts in Atlantis is very much a story about dreams and a reflection of a pivotal moment. The film ends as abruptly as the end of childhood – when dreams make way for the harsh reality of tomorrow. It's easy to leave your heart behind.

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SCOTT HICKS interview
by Andrew L. Urban




CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, David Morse, Mika Boorem

PRODUCER: Kerry Heysen

DIRECTOR: Scott Hicks

SCRIPT: William Goldman (story by Stephen King)


EDITOR: Pip Karmel

MUSIC: Mychael Danna


RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 31, 2002

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020