Out There

Reviews and reports from SXSW Film and Interactive 05

<i>The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things</i>
The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things


D: Asia Argento; with Argento, Jimmy Bennett, Dylan Sprouse, Cole Sprouse, Peter Fonda, Winona Ryder, Jeremy Sisto

Narrative Feature Spotlight

Fair warning: Argento's unflinching adaptation of 24-year-old author J.T. Leroy's horrifically troubled life pulls few punches and has caused more than a few audience members to hit the exits in revulsion. That's giving this nakedly honest portraiture of innocence corrupted short shrift, though, and negates Argento's considerable style, which brings to mind Gus Van Sant as filtered through Harmony Korine on a Larry Clarke meth jag. Reunited with his drug-addled hooker mother (Argento, oozing vileness like a suppurating wound), 7-year-old Jeremiah bounces from perdition to hell and beyond as his mother hooks up with a seemingly endless series of increasingly mad, bad, dangerous-to-know alpha-omega males and leaves naught but tears and terror in her wake. It's virtually impossible to portray real-life human villainy of this level without collapsing into a sordid, ghastly cinematic mess, but child actors Bennett and the Sprouse twins effectively and affectingly nail Jeremiah's desperate quest for love and acceptance at any price, and the film, to its credit, implies rather than shows the worst of the worst. Argento, as the bleached-blonde emotional carrion, is repellent in the extreme, a human car-crash of epic proportions, a walking blight on mother love itself. With a jarring soundtrack by Sonic Youth and expressive cinematography by Van Sant regular Eric Alan Edwards, this is the rough trade truth, sour times in the real world, and unforgettable.

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