A blur of a film that never really engaged me in any way or form, "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things" might have appealed to me more had I been in the right mood, but unfortunately I was not in the mood to watch countless scenes of child abuse, molestation and other disturbing things. At least the performances are top notch.
As with "Freedomland" I was working on my laptop while watching this flick. Some people criticize me for my random attempts to multitask and say "How the hell can you actually work and watch a movie at the same time?" Okay, so I don't remember every little facet about this film, but when I watch a good movie I pay attention to it, and when I don't, I don't. If a movie is good enough, it'll draw my attention anyway from my computer - and if not, well, here I am writing a review.
"The Heart is Deceitful" is about a kid named Jeremiah who has to put up with the fact that his mother is a bitch and doesn't love him, that most of her boyfriends and husbands are scumbags, and that some of her boyfriends like him just a tad too much. Even when he gets put into a religious school he finds himself getting manipulated by less-than-respectable individuals.
The movie is depressing and disturbing, but that's not what I didn't like about it. I don't mind disturbing movies, but if a movie is going to be disturbing with no real positive end in sight, it's got to hold my attention and prove to me that it's a train wreck waiting to happen. "The Heart is Deceitful" just didn't do that for me. It jumps from scene to scene in almost a dreamlike matter, not always coherent but always intentionally so. Regardless, the film just didn't engage me in the way that a movie like this has to.
It probably doesn't help that none of the children who played the lead character blew me away, either. None are bad, and I've liked young Jimmy Bennett in other things, but for a young kid to carry a movie such as this, he has to be kick-ass. Furthermore, I must have lost interest by the time Bennett is switched out for the slightly older Sprouse twins - I thought the movie had decided to go and do a flashback on another character.
All that being said, there are a few highlights of the movie. Aside from some confusing editing at times and actor-switches that didn't really make much sense, the direction by writer/director/actress Asia Argento is pretty good. It isn't without its flaws, but as a first effort is certainly notable. I'm looking forward to what else Argento creates.
Even better, Argento's performance is excellent. While it won't win any awards, Argento has transformed herself into a monster of a woman, a person so sick and unloving that she has made herself unbeautiful. I found her rather pretty in a unique kind of way in 2002's "XXX," but her performance alone makes her ugly here, and I give her props for it. Since no one has seen this movie I can't say it will be her breakout role, but it certainly could have been under the right circumstances.
Decent direction and great acting by the director of the flick make "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things" almost watchable, but a lack of cohesive storytelling and strong children performances leave this film underwhelming.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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