The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
with Asia Argento, Peter Fonda, Marilyn Manson, and Michael Pitt
Directed by Asia Argento
This is the film adaptation of two JT Leroy books, Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above all Things. These two books were supposed to be autobiographical, but apparently, one of the greatest literary hoaxes of all time passed me by. Jeremiah “Terminator” LeRoy, a disturbed young street urchin who ended up being published in a number of famous and infamous magazines, attended an opera with and befriended Winona Ryder, received religious advice from Madonna herself, and generally enthralled the literary world, but turned out to be a fake. Didn’t exist. Earlier this year, The New York Times revealed that JT was the brainchild of his “partner,” Laura Albert, and his half sister, Savannah, who appeared as JT in public. Confusing, huh? A lot of people would be turned off by the fact that this intense life story was totally made up. In a way, I’m relieved.
The Heart… is a brutal, slow waltz through the most horrific childhood you can imagine that doesn’t result in the kid actually dying. At what appears to be the age of six, Jeremiah is plucked from a foster home with a family who loves him by his birth mother, Sarah (Asia Argento). She brings to mind what Courtney Love would’ve been like, had she stayed a drug-addled stripper in Portland: Obnoxious, toxic, and downright evil. She drags her son away from love and safety through meth labs, strip clubs, truck stops, loads him up with pills and booze, and abandons him twice. Once into the arms of a pedophile she recently married and left when he ran out of money, and again into the grip of her fiercely religious preacher father (Peter Fonda). There isn’t a single form of child abuse you can think of that doesn’t take place here. Abuse so brutal that towards the end, it brings the two together in sickness and ill health. At what appears to be age 12, Jeremiah is given a chance to escape from Sarah after nearly dying, but instead runs back to her. It’s destructive but familiar.
Filmed by Eric Alan Edwards (Kids, My Own Private Idaho), the film looks like it came out in 1986, not 2006, and I like that quite a bit. It fits the time in which most of the story is supposed to take place. I understand why most of the quotes about this move are brief and mostly relegated to the words “Powerful” and “Emotional.” It’s hard to say a whole lot more about the film after watching. It leaves you with very few words, and a sick feeling in your stomach. It does what movies should do: Make you feel something long after they’re over.