The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things

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The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
Heart is deceitful above all things.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Asia Argento
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Asia Argento
  • Alessandro Magania
Based on The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
by JT Leroy
Music by
Cinematography Eric Alan Edwards
Edited by Jim Mol
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 15, 2004 (2004-05-15) (Cannes)
  • January 19, 2005 (2005-01-19) (France)
  • May 7, 2005 (2005-05-07) (Japan)
  • July 15, 2005 (2005-07-15) (UK)
  • March 10, 2006 (2006-03-10) (US)
Running time
98 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Japan
Language English
Box office $211,355[2]

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things is a 2004 drama film co-written and directed by Asia Argento and starring Argento, Jimmy Bennett & Dylan and Cole Sprouse (with Jimmy, Dylan and Cole sharing the role as Jeremiah). The screenplay by Argento and Alessandro Magania is based on JT LeRoy's novel of the same name. The film received a limited theatrical release in North America on March 10, 2006.

The film concerns a tattered relationship between Sarah, a drug addict, and her young son, Jeremiah. Their life together is marked by Sarah's drug-taking and heavy drinking. The title is taken from Jeremiah 17:9.


Sarah (Asia Argento) becomes involved with a series of men who treat her and Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett) poorly, and she uses them as an excuse to abandon her son. She disappears to Atlantic City with her boyfriend, Emerson (Jeremy Renner), and then abandons him; Emerson returns to their home and rapes Jeremiah. After a trip to hospital, Jeremiah's grandmother (Ornella Muti) takes him to a West Virginian radical Christian cult led by his grandfather (Peter Fonda). After he has been three years with the cult, Sarah returns to reclaim the 11-year-old Jeremiah (Dylan and Cole Sprouse).

Sarah's current lover, Kenny (Matt Schulze), a truck driver, eventually abandons them at a truck stop while Sarah is soliciting. Sarah realizes that if she is going to keep her men she cannot say Jeremiah is her son. She persuades Jeremiah to cross dress so he can act as her "little sister", and Jeremiah's cross-dressing evolves to include his mother's seduction techniques. After dressing up as a "baby doll" version of Sarah which consisted of her makeup, her white nightgown and her red High Heel Pumps, Jeremiah (although the audience sees Asia Argento as Jeremiah because this scene could not be done with child actors as it was too inappropriate) seduces Jackson (Marilyn Manson), his mother's latest man, who initially tries to rebuff the boy's advances, but then gives in. Sarah is furious with Jackson for giving in to the boy's advances and with Jeremiah for ruining her panties with drops of blood on them, and she takes Jeremiah and leaves.

Later, they are in a house where the basement houses a methamphetamine laboratory, which later blows up with Sarah's latest boyfriend inside. After fleeing, and while detoxing from methamphetamine, Sarah is convinced that everyone is after them and that only certain foods are edible (mainly chips and soda). She convinces Jeremiah that if they eat anything but those foods, they will be poisoned which leads them to a failed attempt to shoplift at a grocery store; afterwards, Jeremiah finds a hamburger to eat from a dumpster. His mother, in a state of "meth psychosis", is convinced the food he ate was poison, and makes him drink ipecac in order to make him better and rid him of any "poisons".

Jeremiah wakes up in the hospital with his grandmother beside him. She tells him that Sarah is in the psychiatric ward. Later that night, Sarah collects Jeremiah from his hospital room, and, rather than have him go back to the cult, she clutches his hand and they walk away in hospital gowns. The final scene is of Sarah and Jeremiah driving away.



Although the soundtrack to the film was never commercially released, here is a list of different songs featured in the movie, along with the scenes they are played in.

  • "Born to be Dizzy" - The Starlite Desperation (Sarah and Jeremiah drive away from the hospital)
  • "Karen Koltrane (instrumental version)" - Sonic Youth (Jeremiah draws on the walls)
  • "Beautiful Plateau" - Sonic Youth (Sarah and Jeremiah drive away from exploding meth lab)
  • "Linda Lovelace" - David Allen Coe (Kenny leaves Jeremiah alone in truck after "cleaning up")
  • "She Said" - Hasil Adkins (Sarah gets Jeremiah and meets Kenny)
  • "Muskrat" - Pagoda (At the end, when Jeremiah leaves the diner)
  • "Mickey Mouse is Dead (live)" - The Subhumans (Before Kenny changes the tape)
  • "Two Time Girl" - Knoxville Girls (after Kenny pulls over to get Sarah's tape)
  • "There He Goes" (Asia Argento cover) - Loretta Lynn (At strip club with Sarah)


The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 41% rating based on 49 reviews. The site's consensus states: "The film aims to shock, but there is no higher reason for the parade of sordid images except to be."[3] On Metacritic, the film has a 27 out of 100 rating based on 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[4]


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