November 19, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

American Heart

Current Status
In Season
John Boylan, Jeff Bridges, Edward Furlong, Melvyn Hayward, Greg Sevigny
Martin Bell
We gave it a B+

How hardened a convict is American Heart‘s Jack Kelson, the dourest portrait in Jeff Bridges’ gallery of small-time losers? Hardened enough to try ditching his teenage son (T2‘s Furlong) the day Jack leaves jail. And hardened enough to push the troubled, lonely boy out to an all-night restaurant after bringing a woman back to their divey apartment. But as their lives fall further apart, both the cruelty and the eventual care les Seattle miserables show each other is beautifully captured by the leads. Not that they get much help from director Martin Bell (who made the Seattle homeless-kid documentary Streetwise). Anxious to be rhapsodic, he piles ostentatious camera moves on father-son standoffs that should be grittily simple and caps an awkward, recurring black-and-white flashback with a straight steal from Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Still, the desperate poverty of these characters will linger in your living room long after you pay for the rental. B+

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