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  • American Heart [VHS]
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American Heart [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeff Bridges, Edward Furlong, John Boylan, Greg Sevigny, Jayne Entwistle
  • Directors: Martin Bell
  • Writers: Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark, Peter Silverman
  • Producers: Jeff Bridges, Cary Brokaw, Mary Ellen Mark, Nancy Rae Stone
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • VHS Release Date: April 14, 1998
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302918332
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,698 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Jeff Bridges may be the American film actor with the most unseen great performances to his credit. Near the top of the list of Bridges's most overlooked films is this one, the first fiction film by documentary maker Martin Bell (Streetwise). Bridges plays Jack, an ex-con fresh out of prison and back in Seattle, where he is joined by Nick (Edward Furlong), a teenage son he barely knows. Nick wants nothing more than to spend time with Jack, to feel like a family. But Jack can barely cope with the concept of holding a job and staying out of trouble; he can hardly take care of himself, let alone be responsible for a teenager. Bell shows the toll on both as they slowly develop a bond and, after several false starts, learn to trust and care for each other. Bridges is magnificent as this loner who must learn to trust feelings he'd given up on years before. It's an involving and tragic tale. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews

Everything shown in this film can easily happen to anyone.
SanSun
He used this experience with this fictional film, but I found this screenplay often resorted to Hollywood convention.
Charles Tatum
The story is pretty simple, we've seen it all before, but a great human element and excellent acting make this film.
T.G.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By sml17 on March 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Veteran underrated actor Jeff Bridges is complete- ly believeable as a freshly released convict back on the streets of Seattle. His estranged son, young teen actor Edward Furlong (Terminator II), attaches himself, searching for a crumb of family he never had. Streetwise and antisocial, the dad dreams of a new life in Alaska, taking his son with him through the dream. Yet the harsh despair of the streets, poverty, and society's underbelly tug against the two, struggling to have a life and learn who each other is. A perfect study on the barriers which society and economics put before an ex-offender in American society. Recommended for its raw authenticity and acting, not for warm fuzzies.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Charles Tatum on January 19, 2004
Format: DVD
This film has an excellent cast rising above some lackluster material you have seen before in other "angry ex-con" driven stories.
Jack (Jeff Bridges) is a recently released convict who tries to dump his fifteen year old son Nick (Edward Furlong) in the very first scene. Jack heads to Seattle, with Nick following, in order to set up a new life without the bothers of fatherhood. Jack meets with his old partner in crime Rainey (Don Harvey), who pays Jack a little money. Jack gets a job washing windows on high rise buildings, and settles into a small apartment.
And then there is Nick. He has left Jack's sister's farm to live with him. He skips out on registering for school, and hangs around some homeless street kids downtown. Jack is boozing his way through Seattle, meeting up with Charlotte, who used to write him by way of a personals magazine called "American Heart." Nick gets a job delivering newspapers, and Nick and Jack share their little apartment, upstairs from a topless dancer and her troubled teen daughter Molly (Tracey Kapisky).
The film then meanders through scenes of Jack and Nick arguing, then grudgingly making up, trying to develop some sort of normal relationship. Rainey cannot get Jack to come back to crime, but he does eventually get Nick to serve as a lookout for a job. Jack is saving for an impossible dream of moving to Alaska, and Nick wants to help. Nick and Molly grow closer, and Nick shoplifts a pair of shoes for her. Jack discovers the merchandise, along with some weed. Rainey robs Jack, who is also evicted and fired from his job.
Eventually, the cast begins spiraling downward, as Nick gets involved in a burglary for Rainey that goes horribly wrong, and Molly begins taking after her mother.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. pratt on September 13, 2010
Format: DVD
This is exactly the type of movie that I can truly appreciate. It's a slice-of-life drama, filmed on a very low budget, and dealing with characters who are not stylized or glamorous or trendy.

Jeff Bridges and Edward Furlong play father and son. Furlong was a great kid actor - quite naturalistic and displaying no harmful Hollywood showbizzy effects. In this film, he portrays a solemn, lonely, hard-luck kid who seldom has any particular reason to be hopeful about anything yet never gets entirely beaten down by the nasties that Fate keeps throwing his way. I really like this kid and his sad-eyed toughness.

Bridges also is pretty close to perfect as the ex-con Dad. In some ways, the father is the grown-up version of the son. They are both fighting some of the same internal battles. However, the Dad is beginning to run out of steam. His dreams are withering inside him and cannot be sustained. But his weaknesses will serve to educate the son and hopefully the son will be able to avoid at least some of his father's failures in life. It will all be worth it in that case.

This is clearly a quiet little film with quiet little moments about small-time characters leading small-time lives. This is the kind of story that I can really can get into. I loved it.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 2003
Format: DVD
Having previously bought the Artisan release of "Mountains of the Moon", I was hoping that this labeling was faulty just as the labeling had been on that disc. Both DVD's were labeled as standard versions. Whereas "Mountains of the Moon" was, in reality, a widescreen presentation, "American Heart" is sadly fullscreen, just as the packaging indicates. Why do companies, such as Artisan, insist on releasing movies in fullscreen?! Like many other viewers, I abhor pan and scan.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Drake-by-the-Lake on March 14, 2005
Format: DVD
I am suprised how many have not seen American Heart, but for some reason this movie was fated to be a sleeper gem waiting to be discovered by the fortunate few. Good performances all around, a sensible script, and most importantly not too much syrup, unlike a lot of other family dramas that lay it on a bit too thick. If you like realism and want a film that explores the plot described above, then this is an excellent choice.

(...)

Furlong's characters exhibit reserve, introversion, and recklessness. Part of his character, not to say charm, is a mysterious dark side which may have a basis in reality, if media reports are to be believed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on January 29, 2009
Format: DVD
Jeff Bridges is definitely one of the best actors of his generation. Every time I watch him I'm baffled at just how naturally brilliant he is. I'm also baffled that he has yet to pick up an Oscar for his tremendous work, or the fact that he's been nominated for quite possibly his weakest performances yet snubbed entirely for his most impressive.

`American Heart' is one of his most impressive.

When I sat down to watch this film my only motivation was that of Mr. Bridges. I expected yet another sappy generic melodramatic film complete with clichés and manipulated emotions, but Jeff Bridges was enough to make me give it a try. What left me most impressed was the fact that it was none of those things. Sure, it had layers of predictability in the plot and subplot, but it was so honest in its delivery. It never feels forced even in moments when the director and the actors could have easily taken down the path most traveled. For instance, in a scene possessing a major character arch for Bridges he plays it with distilled emotions instead of flying into hysterics like most actors would feel urged to play it. He manages to appear real, and thus the film appears real.

`American Heart' tells the story of recently released convict Jack and his teenage son Nick. Jack doesn't know how to be a real citizen, let alone a father, but his desire to be a part of his son's life gives him the incentive to at least try. Nick is a wayward son, falling into his father's footsteps, but Jack is trying his hardest (even if at times it seems otherwise) to mold him in another direction.

The film is barely anything more than just that; a story about a father and a son, and it benefits from the simplicity.
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