4. Hearts In Atlantis (2001) For a “fantastic” film, this adaptation of the Stephen King novella “Low Men in Yellow Coats”, is unusually quotidian. It is like Stand By Me without the body or like Children On Their Birthdays with a psychic neighbor. Bobby Garfield lives with his widowed (?) mother and times are tight, even in the prosperous, confident early 60s. His mother takes in a boarder, Ted Brautigan, played by Anthony Hopkins as yet another instantiation of the Elder Gentleman With Impeccable Manners And A Secret (The Mask Of Zorro, Shadowlands, The Wolfman).
Bobby and Ted form a bond. It turns out that Ted can see the future, read people’s minds, and move objects around with his will. These abilities rub off on Bobby, allowing him to impress a neighborhood girl. Unfortunately, Ted is being pursued by the government (?), and Bobby’s mother betrays him. When Bobby has to choose between protecting Ted or the girl, he chooses the girl. Ted is apprehended, Bobby regrets it, and the movie ends.
There isn’t much more to the movie than that. No beasties, no locusts coming out of a man’s mouth, no bloodbaths. What there is is sentiment, not something often associated with Stephen King, but I maintain that Mr. King is one of the few writers writing today who has what CS Lewis would call a functioning chest. There is clear good and clear evil in the movie, and the line is drawn where an American of King’s (and my) generation should draw it; for the particular against the general, for the individual against the collective, for honesty and genuine affection against ambition and realpolitik.
Although the movie didn’t contain the references to King’s Dark Tower myth that the novella did, perceptive viewers would see how well it fits. If you want to see Sir Anthony out of character, watch The World’s Fastest Indian.