HEARTS IN ATLANTIS directed by Scott Hicks, written by William Goldman, based on the book by Stephen King, produced by Kerry Heysen, with Anton Yelchin, Anthony Hopkins, Hope Davis and David Morse. 105 minutes. A Castle Rock production. A Warner Brothers release. For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 80. Rating: N Rating: N
in a small new england town, Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves into the upstairs apartment above young Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his mother (Hope Davis). Bobby learns that there are powers in the world he can't understand, that his mom has troubles of her own and that the adult world is a strange place. Oh, good.Some people think Castle Rock, which took its name from the location of a series of Stephen King's novels, makes the best King adaptations. As the list includes The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Misery, Dolores Claiborne and Needful Things but not Carrie, The Dead Zone and The Shining, I disagree.
Stand By Me is considered a Castle Rock film, but Rob Reiner directed it before his association with them. Generally, Castle Rock is more attracted to King the fuzzy humanist, and even in the edgier Misery, Reiner just wasn't mean enough to really grasp the psychosis at its heart.
Hearts In Atlantis was directed by Scott Hicks, of Shine and Snow Falling On Cedars. Though he occasionally slides into moments of frenzied cross-cutting and amphetaminized camera movement, he's generally plainer than in Snow, which is a relief. But he can't resist the golden sunlight that makes the whole film feel dipped in honey and baked.
Fans of the books take note: Hearts In Atlantis is actually Low Men In Yellow Coats, the first story in the collection, which is one of King's wallows in sentimentality about the end of childhood innocence.
Perhaps if it didn't have the voice-over about "the last summer of childhood," perhaps if the rowdy tenderloin where Ted takes Bobby to the movies had been a little seedier and scarier, perhaps if it didn't have that "goin' to the Oscars" glow around it, I might think Hearts In Atlantis a better film.
King is most interesting when he's expresing the conflict between his warm side and his low-down and dirty impulses. Salem's Lot, The Shining, The Regulators, Apt Pupil, Gerald's Game -- these stories are flat-out nasty. Unfortunately, screenwriter William Goldman and director Hicks seem to think King would be a great artist if he'd stop being mean to his characters.