American Heart (1992)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  7 May 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 2,350 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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1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Jack Kelson is going straight. And his son's breaking the law to help him. See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 May 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Heart - Die zweite Chance  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)


$384,048 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character of Lisa was based on real life Seattle street kid Tiny (Erin Blackwell). She was featured in the documentary Streetwise. The part where Lisa approaches a john in a red car, then directs a fellow street kid to get in, was based on a john caught on camera picking up Tiny, where she immediately put her head down in his lap. See more »


Jack Kelson: Keep my name outta your mouth.
See more »


References The 400 Blows (1959) See more »


Sunny Side of The Street
Composed by Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields
Performed by Jeff Bridges
See more »

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User Reviews

Great Unknown Film
29 July 2001 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

I first heard about this movie when it was filming in Seattle, my home. Being a fan of Jeff Bridges, I had to see it when it was released. I now own it on video, and it is one of my favorites.

The Seattle locations are used well, but the basic story could happen anywhere. Ex-con Bridges tries to build a life for himself and his estranged son after his release from prison. There are subplots dealing with a pen-pal romance and Jack's ex-partner, but the focus is on the father-son relationship. What makes the film fascinating is the texture and depth of Bridges' performance. Jack is not too smart, a drunk, and flat broke. He is thrown into a harsh, uncompromising world at the very bottom rung, and somehow must find a way to survive AND stay straight. As he gradually takes responsibility for his son, Nick, he regains his self-esteem and humanity. Bridges shows us all this with humor, honesty, and zero sentimentality. He never shies away from exposing Jack's flaws, but also imbues him with a raw sort of nobility. Flashback sequences drawing a parallel between young Jack and Nick add a layer of poignancy.

There is level of verisimilitude and frankness in "American Heart" that contemporary, mainstream American movies rarely exhibit. In form it greatly resembles Dustin Hoffman's remarkable "Straight Time", but this film is about relationships, not crime. If all you want from a movie is escapism, stay away. Those who like to wander near the Edge will be rewarded.

"you keep me straight, I'll keep you straight"

17 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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