Making the Grades
WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES BRING BOBBY GARFIELD (David Morse) back to the home of his youth, he cannot help but ponder his eleventh year when the magical and innocent world of his childhood was lost forever, like the mystical city of Atlantis.
That fateful birthday was marked by disappointment for young Bobby (Anton Yelchin) because he didn't receive the bike of his dreams, and his widowed mother (Hope Davis) canceled their celebratory dinner due to work obligations. The one bright spot was the arrival of Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins), a new tenant for the upstairs apartment. With an almost uncanny ability to read the boy's innermost thoughts, the mysterious, well-read gentleman's quiet conversation offers solace to the neglected child.
A few days later, Bobby sees an opportunity to purchase the coveted bike himself when the old man with failing eyesight offers to pay Bobby a dollar a day for reading the newspaper out loud and watching for "Low Men"--a debased pack of strangers Ted believes are hounding him. Suspecting his friend suffers from paranoia (he lapses into odd trances sometimes), Bobby accepts the employment and promises, "I won't let the bogeyman get you."
As Bobby becomes Ted's eyes, he discovers the world is indeed full of low men who come in various shapes and sizes, including three school-aged bullies and his Mother's boss. His brush with the darker side of reality includes an introduction to the world of gambling, violence administered with a baseball bat, and sexual assault. These themes, along with some strong language, kisses exchanged between eleven year-olds, and the portrayal of extra sensory perception, may present concerns for parents.
Yet, as Ted provides the fatherly affection the lad yearns for, Bobby sees the world through a new window and begins to understand the power of love, courage, and self-sacrifice. These elements, and a poignant depiction of friendship between the boy and his neighbor Carol (Mika Boorem), make this compelling and nostalgic story a consideration for older teens and adults, who, like Bobby Garfield, may find that they too still have Hearts In Atlantis.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Hearts In Atlantis.
Ted possesses abilities that many consider a gift, but he describes as a burden. How do you feel about the responsibility that usually accompanies talent?
Although Ted and Bobby go through some very difficult incidences, they both claim “I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it, not for all the world.” Why is it that some of life’s toughest challenges can become our best or most cherished experiences? Are there bitter/sweet moments in your life that have left you feeling that way?