Addict (drugaddict) wrote,

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things

Brent Almond as Cop #1
Jeremy Renner as Emerson
Lydia Lunch as Social Worker #2
Dylan Sprouse as Older Jeremiah
Peter Fonda as Grandfather
Lindy Maguire as Girl
Matt Schulze as Kenny
Jeremy Sisto as Chester
Russ Comegys as Piggly Wiggly Clerk
Lisa Stooksbury as Woman in Black
Joy Ingram as Nurse #2
Tim Armstrong as Stinky
Willa Holland as Milkshake
Winona Ryder as Psychologist
Chip Sickler as Additional Voices
Melanie Wright as Stripper
David Dwyer as Cop #2
David Brian Alley as Doctor
Ornella Muti as Grandmother
Cole Sprouse as Older Jeremiah
John Robinson as Aaron
Ben Foster as Fleshy Boy
Marilyn Manson as Jackson
Michael Pitt as Buddy
Hasil Adkins as Organ Grinder
Chelsea Samples as Nurse #1
David Davenport as Sheriff
Cheri Compton as Woman in Pink
Brian Paul as EMT
Amanda Sickler as Additional Voices
Allison Varnes as Piggly Wiggly Cashier #1
LeRoy rose to considerable notoriety as the teenaged author of last year's Sarah, a novel about a gender-confused kid whose mother is a truckers' prostitute. In his latest work, a rawly written, riveting series of 10 interlocked stories that read fluidly as a novel, LeRoy returns to the themes of guilt and sin in the first-person voice of a boy so viciously abused by his caretakers that he is left with barely a sense of his own identity. Jeremiah is a child nobody wants, and he passes swiftly from foster parents to his angry and vindictive teenaged mother, Sarah, to his fanatically Evangelical grandparents. Sarah, herself badly wounded by her punishing, Bible-obsessed parents, gave birth to the boy when she was only 14; she returns at 18 to claim him. "Nobody takes what's mine," spouts the foul-mouthed, pill-popping, paranoid young woman. It's soon clear that Sarah cares nothing for her son, who becomes an unwelcome tagalong on her transient cross-country misadventures in hooking louche sugar daddies, stripping, turning tricks for truckers and cooking up explosive "crystal" in one boyfriend's cellar. The boy, who begins to crave Sarah's punishment as a way of keeping his life in balance, is frequently whipped for bed-wetting and is raped by her unsavory boyfriends; his denial of his sexuality becomes a pathetic attempt to identify with his tormentor. LeRoy depicts his ill-begotten characters as tenderly as Jean Genet, and delineates their acts of sadism and self-mutilation as unsparingly as A.M. Homes. Yet the stories resist spiraling into mere sensationalism. While Sarah becomes almost cartoonish in her savagery, the characters of the trucker child prostitute Milkshake and the lumbering biker Buddy are poignantly understated. Jeremiah, conflicted, emotionally bled but never self-pitying or defeated, elicits a gratifying sympathy. LeRoy's work is a startling achievement in his accelerating mastery of the literary form

Asia Argento's adaptation of JT Leroy's short story collection, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, still has the heartbreaking urgency of a tale about child abuse, regardless of Leroy's proven fraudulent identity. Weaving plots together from Leroy's two books, Sarah, and The Heart Is Deceitful, Argento relays the history of orphaned Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett/Cole Sprouse), whose mother Sarah (Asia Argento) abandons him as a baby to work as a truck-stop lot lizard for her methamphetamine habit. Sarah tears Jeremiah away from a stable foster home to pathetically attempt mothering her seven-year old son. Jeremiah instantly grows up in strip clubs, drug dealers' homes, big rigs, and in the hot rod that he and his mother call home. His sadomasochistic sexual psychology also develops prematurely, informed by men who rape and beat him, and a mother whose work as a hooker requires Jeremiah's dressing up as a girl to pass as her younger sister. Enter a born again, psychotically zealous Grandfather (Peter Fonda) who takes temporary custody of Jeremiah, and the viewer begins to understand Sarah's severe rebelliousness, sensing that the punk, 23-year old prostitute may be a better parent for Jeremiah, simply because she loves him. Shot by Eric Alan Edwards (Kids, My Own Private Idaho), and with a soundtrack including Sonic Youth, Subhumans, Billy Corgan, and Hasil Adkins, the film has a raunchy, Southern appeal similar to that of Leroy's books. Cameos appearances by Winona Ryder and Marilyn Manson add rock star power. Argento keeps it sexy, as this is as much a story of the mother-child bond as it is about the malformation of a boy's sexual identity. True or not, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things is a sincere yet stylized rendition of a terribly sad story.
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