CORPORATE LINE: Based on the novel by the mysterious and controversial JT LeRoy, Asia Argento’s THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS is a penetrating look at the emotional and physical bonds between mother and son. Argento, the daughter of Italian horror king Dario Argento (SUSPIRIA), directed and stars in the film, playing Sarah, a young woman addicted to sex, drugs, and danger. The movie opens as she reenters the life of her seven-year-old son, Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett), who has been dragged away from his serene and apparently wonderful foster home to be reunited with his crazy mother. She has no idea how to take care of what is clearly an extraordinary child, abusing him psychologically as she allows a string of loser boyfriends (including Michael Pitt, John Robinson, and Jeremy Sisto) to beat him physically. Sarah disappears for long stretches of time, eventually forcing Jeremiah to live with his Bible-thumping grandparents (Peter Fonda and Ornella Muti), who find yet more ways to scar the child. But again and again, he winds up back with his deeply troubled mother, who is spiraling downward–and bringing Jeremiah with her. Argento, who also cowrote the screenplay (with Alessandro Magania), gives a raw, powerful, courageous performance as Sarah, holding nothing back. And the actors who play Jeremiah as he grows up (first Bennett, then twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse) are outstanding in very complex roles. The hard-driving soundtrack (which includes Marilyn Manson, who plays one of Sarah’s boyfriends) matches the fast-paced editing, making Argento’s labor of love a visual and aural treat, even with its difficult imagery and content.
THE REVIEW: If I didn’t owe it to the studio for sending me a DVD screening copy and bugging me about a review I wouldn’t have finished watching this mess. Halfway through the film the first time I shut it off. Not because it’s hard to deal with the content—even though the content is inexplicable—but The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things is a terrible movie.
Asia Argento does her worst Courtney Love impression. The film is only tolerable when she isn’t in it. Jimmy Bennett who plays the son Jeremiah is insufferable—much like the rest of the film.
FRANKLY: Upon the second viewing it reinforced my initial thoughts: The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things sucks.
+ Charlie Craine