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Hearts in Atlantis

Scott Hicks
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin.
Length: 101 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Warner Home Video

“Ah, what a world…” says Brautigan, the mysterious boarder in 11-year old Bobby’s house. And right he is.

Based on Stephen King’s novel, this movie unfolds to show us the both the beauty and darkness of life and the solace that can come from remembering. A grown-up Bobby tells this coming of age story as he visits his hometown and remembers events that made a difference to him as a young boy.

Brautigan – played artfully by Anthony Hopkins - takes an interest in Bobby when he notices that Bobby’s selfish, widowed mother neglects to notice her son in any meaningful way. Bobby’s birthday is coming up and he has his eye on a beautiful new Schwinn bike. His mother claims she has no money because Bobby’s father died leaving them nothing, and gives Bobby a library card for his birthday. (Bobby’s mother has money, however, to buy beautiful dresses.)

Brautigan feels Bobby’s disappointment and invites Bobby to read to him for a dollar a week, saying that his eyes are old, and so begins a mentorship that is poignant, touching, and in some ways, an emotional life saver for Bobby. Brautigan as a teacher can see life through Bobby’s eyes and helps Bobby to see with new eyes. As a result, Bobby discovers his own power to love, stand up for himself and others (he beats up a local who has bullied him and who beat up Bobby’s girlfriend, Carol), and to value the small kindnesses that make a difference to someone’s day.

Brautigan has a mysterious past, however, and in asking Bobby to be a noticer, to be aware, he asks Bobby to warn him if Bobby notices men in dark suits arriving in town. We never find out what Brautigan has that these men want, but we can guess that it has something to do with psychic power, and regardless of how Brautigan moves around from town to town, these guys dog him, and he knows it is just a matter of time before they find him again. So, he makes the most of his short time with Bobby, and, while he leaves town with the men in dark suits to Bobby’s tears and screams, he leaves Bobby with a wholeness and resolve that stays with Bobby for the rest of his life.

This is a very touching movie, one that reminds us how much noticing and being noticed by another person, and being acknowledged by them, makes a difference, especially in a world that is both light and dark, beautiful and ugly, sunny and shadowy. As coaches this is what we do for our clients. The power of a being a witness to our clients’ suffering, of listening to what is said and what is not said, of helping our clients discover amazing potential, of quiet teaching, of just being there – all of these happen in the relationship between Brautigan and Bobby.

Click here for a coaching practice related to the theme of this movie.





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