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American Heart
     

American Heart

Director: Martin Bell

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Edward Furlong, Lucinda Jenney

 

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Following up on Streetwise, his powerful documentary on the homeless kids of Seattle, director Martin Bell returned to that city for a dramatic feature. Nick Kelson (Edward Furlong) is a troubled teenager whose mother has been dead for many years; he spends much of his time with other throwaway kids roaming the city. When Nick's father Jack (Jeff Bridges) is

Overview

Following up on Streetwise, his powerful documentary on the homeless kids of Seattle, director Martin Bell returned to that city for a dramatic feature. Nick Kelson (Edward Furlong) is a troubled teenager whose mother has been dead for many years; he spends much of his time with other throwaway kids roaming the city. When Nick's father Jack (Jeff Bridges) is released from a long stretch in prison, the father and child reunion is a bumpy one. Jack senses an obligation to his son but is trying to focus on taking responsibility for his own life before he can extend himself. Nick is wary of his father's criminal background, but he also craves the stability of a real home life. Aware that a return to the city whose mean streets spawned his criminal career might pull him back into his old ways, Jack talks about moving to Alaska to make a fresh start, but it's not clear if Nick is part of his plan. The film's unsentimental look at its characters always on the verge of backsliding didn't endear it to ticket buyers, but it was lauded by many critics for its honesty and for Bridges' strong performance, which won an Independent Spirit award.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Not every documentary can spawn a successful feature, but then there is the case of director Martin Bell's Streetwise giving birth to his American Heart. Bell and his wife, photographer Mary Ellen Mark, collaborated on both films; it was her pictures of Seattle's street kids which inspired the documentary, and she and Bell wrote a screen story for writer Peter Silverman to fashion into a drama about a teen in danger of being lost to the streets. Jeff Bridges co-produced American Heart and anchored it with one of his strongest performances. His Jack Kelson is that familiar ex-con who's torn between going straight and falling prey to the lure of his former life. Kelson, with raggedy mustache, flowing hair, and a body sculpted by prison-yard workouts, is all swagger until he comes up against Nick, the son he barely knew. Edward Furlong and his clenched face exude alienation, and when he and Bridges square off, it's a showdown between two males who won't admit how badly they crave affection. Bell sees all of the down-and-out characters in this story with the same clear eye; they are neither colorfully eccentric nor pathetically damaged, just people trying to get by, often one day at a time.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/12/1994
UPC:
0084296222223
Original Release:
1993

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jeff Bridges Jack Kelson
Edward Furlong Nick Kelson
Lucinda Jenney Charlotte
Don Harvey Rainey
Tracey Kapisky Actor
Maggie Welsh Freddie
Shareen J. Mitchell Diane
John Boylan Janitor
Kit McDonough Landlady
Cristine McMurdo-Wallis School Administrator
Loyd Catlett Vernon the Bartender
Marcus Chong Terry Cosmos
Barbara Irvin Nicole
Burke Pearson Jack's Bum
Todd Jamieson Suburban Father
Willie Williams The Gospel Fireballs

Technical Credits
Martin Bell Director
James R. Bagdonas Cinematographer
Nancy Baker Editor
Jeff Bridges Producer
Cary Brokaw Producer
Richard Hawley Asst. Director
Rosilyn Heller Producer
James Newton Howard Score Composer
Neil Koenigsberg Co-producer
Timothy Lonsdale Asst. Director
Mary Ellen Mark Associate Producer
Beatrix Aruna Pasztor Costumes/Costume Designer
Bob Riggs Special Effects
Joel Schiller Production Designer
Peter Silverman Screenwriter
Nancy Rae Stone Associate Producer
Rondi Tucker Set Decoration/Design

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