Hearts in Atlantis is a 2001 American/Australian drama thriller directed by Scott Hicks. It is loosely adapted from Stephen King's novella "Low Men in Yellow Coats", from his story collection Hearts in Atlantis.


Hearts in Atlantis tells the story of Robert "Bobby" Garfield (David Morse), a middle-aged man recollecting his past, in particular the summer when he was eleven years old (Anton Yelchin). During that summer, he and his two friends, Carol Gerber (Mika Boorem) and John "Sully" Sullivan (Will Rothhaar), experienced many things together, the most mysterious of which was meeting an elderly drifter named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins).

Bobby lives with his single mother, the self-centered Liz Garfield (Hope Davis), who takes in Brautigan as a boarder. Ted takes the lonely Bobby under his wing, while his mother is busy with her job - including entertaining her boss as a way of paying off debt supposedly left by Bobby's late father. The two form a father-son bond, and it slowly becomes clear that Ted has some psychic and telekinetic powers that rub off on the young boy. These same powers are the reason that Brautigan has come to this sleepy town; he has escaped the grasp of the "Low Men", strange people who would stop at nothing to get their hands on Ted.

Ted offers Bobby a job—his eyes aren't as good as they used to be, so he asks the boy to read a newspaper for him, and to earn a dollar a week, so Bobby could buy a bicycle he wants. Bobby doesn't believe that this is the real job, and he is right. Ted asks Bobby to keep an eye on the neighborhood looking for any signs of the "low men", like announcements about missing pets. Bobby sees one, but doesn't tell Ted, afraid to lose his new friend.

Bobby, Carol, and John have frequent conflicts with the local town bully, Harry Doolin (Tommy Reifsnyder), whom Ted is able to scare away by looking into his mind and finding out that his violence is used to cover up the fact that he is secretly a cross-dresser. However, at one point, Harry hurts Carol, and when Ted manipulates her dislocated shoulder into place, Liz arrives, after being raped by her boss, and mistakenly believes that Ted is a child molester. She is confronted by Ted's ability to tell her the truth about what she has been through, and how her behavior is affecting her relationship with her son, providing another reason that Ted must leave. That and the "low men" are closing in on him.

Ted is eventually captured with the help of a tip from Liz. As some form of closure, Ted yells to Bobby as he is being driven away that he wouldn't have missed a moment "not for all the world", and later Bobby mirrors the same feelings. Bobby is later confronted by Harry but Bobby grabs the latter's baseball bat and beats him with it. Liz later finds a new job in Boston and moves the family there. Before he leaves, Bobby and Carol say their goodbyes and share a final kiss.

At the end of the film, a grown up Bobby meets a girl who turns out to be Carol's daughter.



Box officeEdit

The film opened at #3 raking in $9,021,494 USD in its opening weekend at the U.S. box office.[1] The film would eventually gross a domestic total of $24,185,781, fairly short of its $31 million budget, but with an international $6,733,634, it would total $30,919,415, about $80,000 short of the budget.[2]


This movie received mixed reviews. Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars. As of June 2012, it has a score of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, which concludes that "Hearts in Atlantis is well-acted and beautiful to look at, but the movie is nothing more than a mood piece."[3]

Differences from the source materialEdit

The story that it was based on had deep ties into King's epic The Dark Tower. In the original novella, the 'low men' were in fact Can-toi, agents of the Crimson King. Ted Brautigan was a 'breaker', a psychic whose abilities made him able (unwillingly, of course) to 'break' down the beams surrounding the Dark Tower, the linchpin of all existence. In order to gain wider audience appeal, the film version of Ted is written as a runaway government agent, his psychic powers being used for national-security purposes.

There are several other changes, most notably Carol being dead in the film's coda. In the book, Carol is only believed to have died in a violent Vietnam protest. When Bobby returns home, they meet again.


External linksEdit

Template:Media based on Stephen King works Template:Scott Hicks

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+