Directed by: Asia Argento
Premise: Story of Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett), a young boy who is yanked between the custody of various people including his birth mother (Asia Argento), his grandfather (Peter Fonda), and foster care. Along the way Jeremiah encounters the darkest elements of humanity and this shapes his view of love and relationships.
What Works: The performance by Jimmy Bennett is truly amazing. It is easily one of the best performances by a child actor since Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver in that he conveys the innocence of a child but does not underestimate the intelligence of the character. The extent to which the film pushes Jeremiah and the ways Bennett portrays his corruption are extremely well done. Director Argento is fearless in placing the child protagonist in some of the worst situations imaginable and has a keen sense for how to communicate horrendous abuse in ways that will horrify but are also very creative and tasteful. Argento also stars in the film as Jeremiah’s mother. She, along with Michael Pitt as Jeremiah’s cousin, form very interesting relationships with the protagonist that shape his development.
What Doesn’t: As a result of the kind of story this is, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things becomes very episodic. Each segment is well done, and the relationship between Sarah and Jeremiah comes back enough to provide consistency in the narrative, but at the conclusion of the film, the story ends rather than reaching much of a climax.
DVD extras: Commentary track, featurette, trailers.
Bottom Line: The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things is brave filmmaking, the kind of picture that deals with difficult subject matter and finds ways of making it accessible without watering down the topic. Although it is flawed, it does make a very interesting viewing.
Episode:#116 (November 5, 2006)