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Hearts in Atlantis (2001)

PG-13 | | Drama, Mystery | 28 September 2001 (USA)
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A widowed mother and her son change when a mysterious stranger enters their lives.



(book), (screenplay)
2,906 ( 703)
2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Story based on the Stephen King Novel "Hearts In Atlantis".

Director: Johannes Roberts


Cast overview, first billed only:
Monte Man
Harry Doolin (as Timmy Reifsnyder)
Terry Beaver ...
Richie O'Rourke (as Joe T. Blankenship)
Willie Shearman


This is a gentle, innocent film about the reflections of an aging man, who returns to his home town after the death of his best friend. Memories of life at age 11 floods back as it was a magical time that changed his life. Three 11 year old children (Bobby, Carol, and Sully) share their lives. Carol and Bobby have a special affection for one another including sharing a kiss "by which all others will be measured". Bobby lives with his mother, a bitter, vain woman who looks for pleasures for herself without sharing much with her son. Into their lives comes a mysterious new boarder, who befriends the boy but generates distrust from the mother. As time passes, the man and boy share confidences and special powers are revealed. The man warns the boy to be on the lookout for the "lowmen", who were seeking him. The two share a summer's adventures and come to love one another before the inevitable happens. A confrontation with a school bully also changes everyone. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What if one of life's great mysteries moved in upstairs?


Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 September 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nostalgia del pasado  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,021,494 (USA) (28 September 2001)


$24,185,781 (USA) (30 November 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the scene on the porch where Bobby first reads the newspaper to Ted who asks him "Have you kissed her (Carol Gerber) yet?", Scott Hicks points out (commentary at 24:29) that the shot at the end of the scene, a close up of Bobby over Ted's shoulder in which Anthony Hopkins ad-libbed the line "But you will kiss her" was included during editing because of Anton Yelchin's response: a glance up with wide eyes with his right eye quickly narrowing to a glare (at around 24 mins). See more »


When Ted offers Bobby the job of reading the newspaper to him as they are seated at the table in Ted's apartment, things move about on the table top. At 17:25, in a medium shot of Bobby from behind Ted, the cup, sugar and creamer, and Bobby's root beer are aligned. At 17:26, in a medium shot of Ted drinking his root beer from behind Bobby, the sugar and creamer have moved to Bobby's left out of alignment. At 17:29, in a medium shot of Bobby from behind Ted, the sugar and creamer have moved back, but Bobby's root beer has moved to his left out of alignment. See more »


[first lines]
Bobby Garfield (Adult): Whenever it wants, the past can come kicking the door down. And you never know where it's going to take you. All you can do is hope it's a place you want to go.
Bobby Garfield (Adult): [answering machine message] Hi, you have reached the Garfield family. Jill and the boys are away skiing, you can reach them on their various cellphones. Me, I'm going to be on the road for a few days. I'll be back Tuesday.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to the citizens of Richmond and Staunton, Virginia See more »


Features The Lone Ranger (1949) See more »


Written and Performed by Chuck Berry
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Group
See more »

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User Reviews

King, Hopkins Make For Resonant Film
16 June 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the many acting skills Anthony Hopkins possesses is the ability to attract and disturb at the same time; he can charm you to no end with sly smiles and unspoken allure. But all the while he's hiding something unsettling that you can't ever quite figure out. In Hearts in Atlantis, the latest of what by now must be a truly massive box set of Stephen King film adaptations, Sir Anthony finds a writer perfectly suited to these unique talents. What we see is a movie eerie and enchanting, both in mood and in style -- a story that holds onto its cards throughout, letting you see each of them slowly, one by one, and only when absolutely necessary. In the end we find we have been held captive by a stunningly memorable and powerful film.

The story begins as a retrospective: Robert Morse plays the older version of Bobby Garfield, the central character of this reminiscent story. It takes a recent tragedy to send the older Bobby unwittingly in the mind to his days as an 11-year-old in 1960. There we go to a place common to almost all of King's stories: rural New England, where Bobby lives with his mother (Hope Davis), and spends his innocent, aimless days with his two friends Sully (Will Rothhaar) and Carol (Mika Boorem). His father died when Bobby was only five, and his mother is so busy hopefully tending to a real estate career that she has little time to tend to her only child. To this point nothing is out of the ordinary; this childhood is deliberately portrayed with hazy, warm undertones, akin to the sense of youth so familiar to many who look back upon it.

Fairly early on we meet Ted Brautigan (Hopkins), a boarder who shows up quite suddenly on their porch, his belongings in grocery bags. He is clean, well-spoken, unobtrusive and generally a placid sort. But he is also an instant enigma: he is of unknown origin, means, and intent, and Bobby's mother quickly decides this is a man to be viewed with caution. Bobby, on the other hand, innocently curious --and most likely desperate for anything that could spell the boredom of his uneventful summer-- decides this a man worth knowing. They become close, Brautigan dispersing kennels of wisdom and even offering young Bobby a dollar a week and cold root beers to read him the newspaper daily. But Brautigan clearly has a special quality about him: he can sense things and see things that are not readily apparent to most others. Bobby seems to have this gift as well, though in a lees pronounced way, and through this they form a bond, one Bobby's mother slowly and begrudgingly affords him. She's suspicious of this man still, while we the viewers begin gradually to glean some of the mysteries of his past. I don't dare say what they are, but they do involve "the Low Men", people, Brautigan warns Bobby, who may some day come looking for him. He tells Bobby what signs to look for about town, gently using the boy as a scout of imminent danger. Bobby does not know who they are or what they represent. Neither do we, for a long time, but the key instrument of this story is to make it intentionally vague. We are not to be concerned about these details, but rather to know that Brautigan has experienced them, and will do whatever he can to shield Bobby and his youth from the corrupting darkness looming behind them.

Stephen King has been widely read as an author of horror and suspense, but his best works --like this one-- work on a much more insidious level, evoking a sense of foreboding and unknown that manages to inform everything that happens within. The makers of this film find great success emphasizing the shady murkiness of the story, and they still manage to keep things centered. The mysteries of Ted Brautigan find parallels in the wonders of youth: Bobby experiences his first kiss, naturally, encounters a menacing bully, and learns to view his mother in evolving ways...grown-up ways. This is really a story of innocence and maturity, of youth's purity and the dangers that lurk at its end. Bobby finds that end to a certain degree, but along the way finds friendship, knowledge, and a sense of the mysteries of adulthood that await him. Ted Brautigan is really more than a friend to Bobby; he is a guide, a protector, and a teacher. These two actors provide real, natural on screen chemistry in this film, and there is one delightful scene early on where Brautigan intensely relives for Bobby a glory day of Chicago Bears football lore. This is an actor who can take any available strengths of writing and magnify them for us viewers who watch him say them aloud. As a result Anthony Hopkins anchors this infectious little film to the ground while still allowing it to soar skyward when needed.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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