HEARTS IN ATLANTIS
Review by Michael Jacobson
Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem, David Morse
Director: Scott Hicks
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: February 12, 2002
Carol, my dear?”
a strange man.”
Tell no one.”
in Atlantis weaves
a magical spell of nostalgia, seeing the world through the eyes of a young boy
in all its wonder, horror, happiness and disappointment.
It’s a film rich in pure emotional texture, instinctually letting us
feel what the characters feel, without ever hitting a false or melodramatic
note, even with the story’s strange twists and turns.
director Scott Hicks, who captured the attention of the world with his masterful
Shine and his underrated follow-up Snow Falling on Cedars, takes a
story by Stephen King and spins an unusual movie about coming of age, loss of
innocence, and hope for the future, despite inevitable disillusionment.
boy is Bobby Garfield (a terrific young Yelchin), a good kid growing up in
Connecticut in 1960. He just turned
eleven, and seems to be living a life almost entirely sans grown-ups.
His father died years earlier, and his mother (Davis), seems too
distracted and hopelessly self centered to really serve as a parent.
a strange elderly man named Ted Brautigan (Hopkins) moves in upstairs from
Bobby, it is the beginning of a subtle new adventure for both.
One of Hicks’ masterful touches is how we can see Ted both through our
own eyes and Bobby’s as well…my first impression was that he was kind and
endearing, if a little dotty. But
Bobby seemed to see magic in the old man right from the start.
strike up the kind of friendship I wished I had as a kid, where a wise adult
whom you actually believe in tells him in advance about banner moments in his
life. I loved when he asked Bobby
if he’d ever kissed his “girlfriend”, Carol (Boorem). He responds with disdain, like any young boy might.
“You will,” muses Ted, “and it will be the kiss by which you
measure all others for the rest of your life.”
The wisdom of our own experience tells us Ted is right; and Bobby, to his
credit, takes the words to heart, even if he doesn’t fully understand what
not going to give away the story elements that I didn’t know about going
in…I found not knowing anything only furthered my enjoyment of the film.
Suffice to say, the movie beautifully portrayed a loving, sweet
relationship between a weary old man and a boy whose eyes were opening up to the
world. It’s the best of that kind
of pairing I’ve seen since Norman and Billy in On Golden Pond twenty
though the story of Ted and Bobby may be key, there were also some magical
moments shared between Bobby and Carol that were true and perfect…moments that
were delightful, and moments that were frightening. Before the film is over, you will have started considering
the many parallels along the way, which Hicks subtly draws and uses for a
building structure that keeps all characters in mind and working whether on the
screen or not.
Hopkins is terrific as always…he’s played kind men, and he’s played
psychotic killers, but credit to his talent, despite the fact that Ted is a
little out there, we know from the first moment we see him that he is
trustworthy. But not enough credit
can go to the two youngsters in the cast. Both
Anton Yelchin and Mika Boorem turn in thoughtful, credible performances that
belie their young years…I hope to see more of them in the future.
mostly, I credit Scott Hicks, who once again threads an impressive, emotional
tapestry with real feelings, intelligence, and a great deal of faith in his
characters. Many is the film that
hearkens you back to your youth, but Hearts in Atlantis takes away the
wall that separates memory from experience.
Best of all, it gets it right.
is a very good anamorphic transfer from Warner Bros. Scott Hicks, and his late cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski
(to whom the film is dedicated), created a visual look for his flashback that is
warm, sunny, and picture postcard perfect.
The bright tones render beautifully, with excellent coloring and crisp,
sharp detail. The bookend pieces in
adulthood take on a cooler, slightly darker tone…the difference is subtle, but
beautifully rendered. I noticed no
grain, but did see a bit of compression evident in one or two more static shots,
in the form of light chroma noise. These
are very fleeting, however, and really don’t detract from the overall
enjoyment. A worthy effort.
5.1 soundtrack is a rather quiet affair, never really reaching back for that
extra punch of dynamic range. The
.1 channel gets very little use, but a few sequences open up both stages for an
ambient effect. Panning effects are
smoothly rendered, and dialogue is always crystal clear.
disc starts off with a wonderful commentary track by Scott Hicks, who’s a
pleasure to listen to…thoughtful, unassuming, filled with great affection for
those who worked with him. It’s
filled with plenty of good information, and like the film itself, emotional
reflection as well. There is a half
hour interview with Anthony Hopkins conducted by Hicks in lieu of a promotional
featurette (and better, in my opinion). Rounding
out is a stills gallery, talent files, and a trailer.