The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
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|The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Asia Argento|
|Based on||The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things|
by JT Leroy
|Cinematography||Eric Alan Edwards|
|Edited by||Jim Mol|
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 Sprouse, and Cole Sprouse (with Bennett and the Sprouse brothers 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 her seven-year-old son, 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 the 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 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.
- Asia Argento as Sarah
- Jimmy Bennett as Young Jeremiah
- Dylan and Cole Sprouse as Older Jeremiah
- Marilyn Manson as Jackson
- Peter Fonda as Grandfather
- Ornella Muti as Grandmother
- Kip Pardue as Luther
- Jeremy Renner as Emerson
- John Robinson as Aaron
- Ben Foster as Fleshy Boy
- Michael Pitt as Buddy
- Jeremy Sisto as Chester
- Matt Schulze as Kenny
- Winona Ryder as Psychologist (uncredited)
- Tim Armstrong as Stinky (uncredited; Armstrong also contributed to the soundtrack)
Although the soundtrack to the film was never commercially released, here is a list of different songs featured in the film, 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 40% rating based on 50 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 'cool'." On Metacritic, the film has a 27 out of 100 rating based on 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Bennett being 17 years old and portraying the son of her character was referenced in the 2018 allegations that Argento sexually assaulted him.
- "THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. March 16, 2005. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things". Metacritic.
- Severson, Kim (August 19, 2018). "Asia Argento, Who Accused Weinstein, Made Deal With Her Own Accuser". New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
Jimmy Bennett, playing Asia Argento's son, in this image from the 2004 film "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things." Mr. Bennett has claimed that Ms. Argento assaulted him
Mr. Bennett was 7 when he was cast in "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," a 2004 film Ms. Argento directed, starred in and helped write. The script, based on a book by the pseudonymous writer JT LeRoy, depicts the grim relationship between a drug-addicted prostitute played by Ms. Argento and her son, played by Mr. Bennett and two other young actors. Ms. Argento's character dresses her son as a girl to lure men, and the boy is ultimately raped. In interviews and subsequent social media posts between the two over the years, they referred to each other as mother and son.