Hearts In Atlantis

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Hearts In Atlantis

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Hearts In Atlantis

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A gauze of sentiment wrapped around the rudiments of a story, the Stephen King adaptation Hearts In Atlantis takes place largely in flashback to one of those idyllic post-WWII/pre-Vietnam summers that may exist only in the minds of Boomer filmmakers. Brought back to his modest beginnings after the death of a childhood pal, accomplished photographer David Morse flashes back to a time when he befriended a mysterious upstairs lodger (Anthony Hopkins) and looked and acted like a child actor auditioning for a cereal commercial (Anton Yelchin). When Yelchin's cash-strapped mother (Hope Davis) gives him a library card instead of a bicycle for his 11th birthday, Hopkins is given an excuse to present Yelchin (and the audience) with a grandfatherly lecture on the value of reading. As the summer drags on and Yelchin grows closer to cute classmate Mika Boorem, Hopkins dispenses more pearls of wisdom while also displaying hints of psychic ability and occasionally staring blankly off into the distance. Unfortunately, these last moments set the tone for Hopkins' performance, one of his sleepiest in recent years. Claiming to be on the run from mysterious "low men," he occasionally seems more like a refugee from a retirement community. The hokey script by William Goldman, in which few characters have any dimensionality and fewer still have memorable lines, seems to have been pulled from a file labeled "Misadventures In The Screen Trade." Davis appears especially perplexed, which is no wonder: The film asks her to play a warm, traitorous, kindhearted, shrewish, man-hungry, fact-bending, deferential careerist. A late-film turn feels disturbingly like Hearts In Atlantis is attempting to punish her for wanting to sell real estate. Sure hands behind the camera might have salvaged the project, but Scott Hicks (Shine, Snow Falling On Cedars) has no luck. His use of slow motion to underscore especially important moments is just about the only reminder that the whole film hasn't been shot at the wrong speed.

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