Hearts in Atlantis
The man upstairs. Bobby and his mom (Yelchin and Davis) try to figure out what Ted is up to...
dir Scott Hicks
scr William Goldman
with Anthony Hopkins, Hope Davis, David Morse, Anton Yelchin, Mika Boorem, Will Rothhaar, Alan Tudyk, Celia Weston, Tom Bower, Adam LeFevre, Wes Johnson, Eric Eggen
release US 28.Sep.01; UK 8.Mar.02
Warner Bros
01/US 1h41

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
what if... Writer Goldman adapts another Stephen King novel (see also Stand By Me and Misery) for the big screen and, alas, the script is the best thing about this film. Because the production is just too wispy for its own good. The story is told in flashbacks as the adult Bobby (Morse) looks back on his 11-year-old self (Yelchin), his struggling single mother (Davis), his best pals (Boorem and Rothhaar) and most importantly the enigmatic Ted Brautigan (Hopkins) who rents the room upstairs. Ted has some sort of extrasensory power--never clearly defined--but it helps Bobby make sense of his life ... and prepare to grow up.

This is a terrific story, a fresh twist on the standard coming-of-age formula with a sharp script full of well-defined characters and snappy dialog. But Hicks (Shine) directs it as a sweet heartwarmer. And this leaves the film feeling overpoweringly dull, completely missing the energy and drive of youth. There's no pacing at all; it just slowly rolls along like a magical fable, when it's really an earthy drama. Not that we need MTV-style crash edits everywhere, but there's a real edge and spark in the script that's never released on screen. The characters are all compelling and fascinating--both kids and adults--and they're all well-played (Davis is the standout). But they're treated so worthily by the director that the real-life rawness is lost amid the amber glow of the evening sun. Sigh! Yes, it's beautifully produced--the attention to 1960s detail is impeccable, the plot's supernatural element is surprisingly subtle, and there are wonderful moments of insight and meaning as these people travel a rather difficult journey. If Hicks had only allowed the grit to show through, the film could have been a classic.
adult themes, some violence cert 12 18.Feb.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
what if... send your review to Shadows... "I was disappointed. I think I was expecting a lot from the Stephen King/William Goldman/Scott Hicks/Anthony Hopkins connection. It seemed like the worst combination of King's extra-normal and Goldman's warm-heartedness. Hopkins was good, though." --Jim Leonard, Los Angeles 3.Oct.01
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall