A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Hearts in Atlantis" weaves a strange spell, made of nostalgia and fear. Rarely does a movie make you feel so warm and so uneasy at the same time, as Stephen King's story evokes the mystery of adolescence, when everything seems to be happening for the very first time.
Set in 1960, the movie tells the story of an 11-year-old named Bobby (Anton Yelchin) whose father died when he was 5, whose mother (Hope Davis) seems too distracted to love him, whose life centers on his best friend Sully (Will Rothhaar), and Carol Gerber (Mika Boorem), with whom he will share a first kiss by which he will judge all the others. As is often the case in King stories, the period is recreated through an intense memory of cars, radio shows, clothes, baseball mitts--material treasures in an uncertain world.
Then a man comes as a boarder in the upstairs apartment at Bobby's house. This is Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins). "I never trust a man who carries his possessions in grocery bags," says Bobby's mother, as Ted stands on the curb without much in the way of possessions. Bobby is often home alone (his mother is much distracted by her office job), and Ted offers root beer, conversation, and even a dollar a week to read him the paper. Then he reveals a more shadowy assignment for Bobby: Keeping a lookout for Low Men, who are seeking Ted because they want to use his gift.
By now Bobby does not have to be told that Ted can sometimes foresee the future; Bobby has the same ability, but muted. "One feels them first at the back of one's eyes," Ted tells Bobby, and we note how Hopkins takes this line, which could come from a cheap horror film, and invests it with nuance.