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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. Itís not without incident of course, and Ted wants Bobby to always keep a lookout for Low Men in black carsÖ 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 Ė and probably some debate. Whatís 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.†

Scott Hicks himself admits it's an odd film, and its oddness comes from the combination of Stephen Kingís original ideas put through the blender of screen writer William Goldman and director Hicks.†

On the commentary track, Hicks often mentions how much the film, for him, is about memory. For example, he explains how Goldmanís script had Bobbyís home renovated by the time a grown up Bobby returns to it. But for Scott, the home had to be derelict and still of the past. He also talks about the film being in two time frames, and about how he wanted to give it a bitter sweet tone as it trawls aspects of childhood.†

Hicks also avoids as much as possible the Low Men in the original novel. He says he didnít want to go there in the film because he preferred to keep the film focused on the world of Bobby the child. And on the relationship between Bobby and Ted.†

As we have come to expect from Hicks, his commentary is like an intimate confession, with us as the ordained listener, to whom he almost whispers his detailed comments. It works as a psychological device to draw us in and make us feel not only informed but also involved. He deals with all aspects, from the conceptual to the cinematic, from the anecdotal to the filmmaking logistics.

The other feature on the disc is a little unusual: Scott Hicks interviews Anthony Hopkins. Itís more a meandering conversation without the disciple of tv imposed time limits, but itís well worth staying with it for a string of small but fascinating revelations about Hopkinsí life and his approach to his work. He talks about his early days as an actor, and how ĎMethodí he was, and mentions some of the greats, like Katharine Hepburn, who helped me move into a more natural style. There are no tough or probing questions from Hicks, nor would you expect any, and the conversation becomes more interesting as it goes along. Itís a fine idea to have a conversation between the filmmakers. It is certainly preferable to the disembodied interviewer approach usually taken. It should be developed.

Published July 18, 2002

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

DIRECTOR: Scott Hicks

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment


SPECIAL FEATURES: SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Scott Hicks; Scott Hicks interviews Anthony Hopkins; stills gallery, trailer; cast and crew bios

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