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Hearts In Atlantis  

Childhood for many is a magical time when a person can let their imagination run wild and dream of being anything that they wish to become. It is also a time of innocence and simplicity for many before the pressures of life have had a chance to burden the dreams and hopes that we had when we were young.

It is a time when having something ranging from a bike to a baseball glove can seem to be the most important thing in the world, and when your friends can be the most important people in your life.

Sadly time has a way of catching up to all of us, and childhood dreams of being an astronaut, fireman, cowboy, or police officer often fade and we peruse more realistic, if less satisfying careers and paths in our lives.
Who among us has not at one point in our lives looked back to when we were younger and though how much easier life was then, and if we would have known then what we know now how much different would things have become?

Such is the premise for the new film "Hearts in Atlantis" based upon the popular Stephen King book of the same name.
The film starts in modern times when a photographer, Bobby Garfield (David Morse) learns that one of his two childhood friends has passed away. Since his family is a way on a ski trip, Bobby heads to the funeral, only to learn that his other childhood friend, and his first love, recently died as well.
Despondent over the news, Bobby returns to his childhood home to find it condemned and boarded up. Realizing that the years since he last lived in the house have past like a blink, Bobby takes a trip down memory lane to the early 60;s when he last lived in the house.

Bobby is being raised by his widowed mother Elizabeth(Hope Davis), who seems more concerned with having a stylish wardrobe, and complaining about their lack of money and how little Bobby's father left them, then spending time with her son.

Forced to take in a boarder to earn extra income, the lives of Bobby and his friend will soon be changed forever by the arrival of Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins). Young Bobby(Anton Yelchin), quickly befriends the mysterious Ted, and despite concerns from his mother, begins working for Ted by reading the paper to him daily. Bobby is thrilled by Ted, and loves the money that he makes as it is bringing him closer to the bike he has coveted for ages.
When he is not reading to Ted, Bobby spends time with his two best friends, Sully(Will Rothaar), and Carol(Mika Boorem), and having a great time, when not being bothered by the local bullies.

Bobby is instructed by Ted to keep an eye out for "The Loman", people Ted describes as being secret and to be avoided. Bobby think this is just a wives tale, but promises Ted he will keep his eyes open. Ted thrills Bobby with his wealth of knowledge, and despite odd trances that seem to come over Ted, Bobby becomes very fond of his older friend.

In time, Bobby learns that Ted avoids touching people, as he has the power to see into people's minds, and if touched, he can pass this ability on to others for a limited time. Too many this is a gift, but to Ted, it is a burden.
Before long, the Loman, do arrive, and Ted is forced to once again, consider fleeing, but the situation is more complicated that it seems, and Ted, Bobby, and his friends are faced with making tough choices as they attempt to resolve the situation they have to make adult choices for the first time in their lives.

The film is a very tender sweet film that is heavily nostalgic for a simpler time. Hearts is more in the line of "Stand By Me" than many of King's, more horrific films. The emphasis was not on horror, and gore, rather on mystery and wonder as the PG-13 rating of the film validates. While there are scenes of violence in the film, they are not as graphic as many other films today. Director Scott Hicks paces the film in a crisp manner and gets fantastic performances from his cast, especially young Yelchin and Boorem. Hicks recently directed "Snow Falling on Cedars" and shows that he has a fantastic eye for capturing the visuals of a different time and place, all of which adds to the serene setting where the film takes place. Hopkins is fantastic as Ted as his wisdom and gentleness hides the inner turmoil he shows as a man who is hiding his gifts from being used for what he believes is wrong.
While his gifts and the nature of the Lowman are not fully explained, the audience has a good idea as to what is going on, and the mystery surrounding them fits with the way a child would see them, as this is a story told through an 11 year old child.

Writer William Goldman whose many credits include "The Generals Daughter", and King's "Misery" has done a faithful adaptation of the book and delivered a touching and enjoyable story.
There are elements of King's "It" and "The Dead Zone" in the film, such as the bond of friends, and being able to see things via touching, but without the scares, and gore of the previous works. This is a film that parents can take teens to see, although be warned, there are a couple of intense scenes in the film.

All in all, a very solid and enjoyable film
4 stars out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbach

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