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American Heart (1992)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  7 May 1993 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 2,317 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 10 critic

Jack is now out of jail and he meets Nick, his adolescent son. Their relationship will be complicated, because Jack has a problem with alcohol. But his love for Nick will help him to get over the past and reach his dreams.

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Title: American Heart (1992)

American Heart (1992) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Boylan ...
...
...
Greg Sevigny ...
...
Willie Williams ...
Roosevelt Franklin ...
Melvyn Hayward ...
...
Kit McDonough ...
Wren Walker ...
Cristine McMurdo-Wallis ...
...
Charlotte London ...
Flo
...
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Storyline

After leaving jail, Jack Kelson wants to live a normal life. He rents a small flat, moves in with his son Nick and tries to get a steady job. But then a former friend steps into his life again. Written by Markus Lasermann <mslaserm@trick.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Jack's only hope was a dream... Nick's only hope was Jack. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexual situations | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 May 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Heart - Die zweite Chance  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$384,048 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of "Freddie" was based on a real life street kid, named Lulu. Lulu was featured in the documentary Streetwise, and just like Freddie, she stood up for other street kids. Lulu was stabbed to death after Streetwise filmed, her funeral was covered by CNN and over 200 people attended. See more »

Quotes

Jack Kelson: I was afraid something like this was going to happen. His mother was a mess. I mean he was coming along learning stuff, he had a hell of potential that kid coulda, been anything. what happened to him?
Charlotte: He isn't dead.
Jack Kelson: No not yet.
Charlotte: Why do you think he's out there?
Jack Kelson: Well, he started hangin' out with that chippy downstairs and and those street punks and next thing hes coming home with a pair of high heels. The rest is history.
Charlotte: You don't think that filling up that boys head with dreams and them kicking...
[...]
See more »

Connections

References The 400 Blows (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Backstabbers
Composed by John Lee Hooker, Al Smith
Performed by John Lee Hooker
Courtesy of Charisma-Pointblank Records
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User Reviews

 
deeply felt, but stripped of sentimentality, and one of Bridges absolute best
23 September 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The only minor drawback with American Heart, and it should not be a big one for most concerned, is that so much of it is taken and/or borrowed from the details and real people and situations documented by director Martin Bell in Streetwise that it almost feels very slightly watered down in comparison. This is not to say that American Heart doesn't have its share of nicely defined grit or realism, but for those handful of viewers who were lucky enough to see Streetwise it isn't quite exactly the same, despite the similar locations and (some) real street kids used again and Tom Waits song accompaniment from time to time.

But this is minor as a liability for two reasons: 1) Martin Bell is out to make a film for all those audiences, however small in the independent film market, who didn't get to see Streetwise and want the facts put into a perspective of compelling dramatization, and he shows the goods as a director of naturalistic settings and specific scenes, and 2) Jeff Bridges. Bridges plays a character based upon a real convict (featured in only one, but perhaps the most shattering, scene of Streetwise) who is out of jail and has to take care of his 15 year old son played by very young Edward Furlong. Bridges gets so deep into this character, so in touch with the hard-bitten mannerisms and hard-knock-lived way to his voice and even the bits of vulnerability that it's hard to see it as anything less than remarkable.

If Furlong isn't quite as remarkable maybe it's to be expected since, frankly, he was still too young to impress much further than his own affected way of speaking and acting. Yet he is fantastic at playing off of this father character, who isn't unloving but knows what road he could go down with just one wrong step (such as, for instance, getting into business with his old crooked diamond-stealing partner). American Heart, on its own terms, allows for Bridges to show what a small treasure (yes, breaking out the pompous terminology like 'treasure') he can be as an actor in American film, and brings to light the degradation of the urban life in Seattle.

Indeed, as a big credit to Martin Bell, it's no less harrowing at times watching these people on the streets, in the bars or the crummy hotel rooms trying to get by or hanging out, living by wits end (if that) as in Streetwise. Only Herzog, with his two films on Dieter Dengler, can probably top Bell's films on Seattle's lower classes in terms of immense dramatic impact, technical skill, and a lead performance that embodies the attitude and conflicts of the danger at every turn. It's overlooked to say the least as far as highly charged but unsentimental indies go.


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