In the Dark

Something Both Brighter and Darker

Doing Hearts in Atlantis
Produced by Castle Rock Entertainment
Directed by Scott Hicks
Screenplay by William Goldman from Stephen King's novel
Released by Warner Brothers

I went to see director Scott Hicks' Hearts in Atlantis not having read the Stephen King novel on which it is based. The little I knew of King's other fiction was not encouraging. I expected another excursion into bump-in-the-night territory—not my favorite place to visit. To my surprise, the film turned out to be a moving portrayal of a happenstance but deeply felt father-son relationship. This, in large part, is due to Anthony Hopkins' transcendent portrayal of the mysterious Ted Brautigan, a 66-year-old man who befriends Bobby Garfield (Anton Yelchin), a fatherless boy of 11.

Although Bobby is the protagonist, it is the knighted Welshman who raises the film far above screenwriter William Goldman's middling adaptation. (I speak with authority. The film made me curious enough to read King's novel afterward. While it isn't Tolstoy, it is an unexpectedly worthy meditation on our mortal condition.) Whether deliberately or not, the film acknowledges its debt to Hopkins by having Bobby quote him. This happens just after the lad gives his friend Carol (Mika Boorem) an impulsive peck on the lips. Having made the briefest essay at prepubescent romance, Bobby assesses the...

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