Film Review: Hearts in Atlantis
Another Stephen King book makes it to the big screen...
There have been so many adaptations of Stephen King books for the big screen at this stage, the old ?is the book better than the film? argument has taken on a whole new dimension. There have been good King books that made great films (such as The Shawshank Redemption), bad ones that made bad films (The Tommy Knockers), and good ones that made bad films (Pet Cemetery). With Hearts in Atlantis we get a great story being made into an average film.
Bobby Garfield is eleven years old, he lives alone with his widowed mom, a strange man Ted Brauttigan (Anthony Hopkins), comes to live the apartment above his house. The man befriends Bobby and for one summer, his life is a mix of terror and wonder. We are on familiar King territory here: small town America, the carelessness of lost youth, psychic powers, sixties music and massive Plymouth cars. Hopkins is on autopilot in a quirky fatherly role, while twelve-year-old Anton Yelchin as Bobby plays an eleven-year-old, very competently. It all works well, in a small, nice, harmless, melancholy way.
But, the important question is, is the film better than the book? In this case it's a resounding 'No!' The original book 'Hearts in Atlantis' is five loosely linked novellas; this film is based on just one of those stories ?Low Men in Yellow Coats?. By incising one story from five we loose much of the magic of the original book.
The heart is here, but the magic is somewhere else.