I've read a lot of Stephen King, but not Hearts in Atlantis, so I sort of knew what to expect when I went to see the movie today, but only in a general sense. The portrait of everyday life would be almost too precisely detailed. Childhood would be idealized, except for some unspeakable horror lurking in the shadows (or the sewers, or somewhere). For good or ill, not everything would be as it seemed.
In that sense, when Mom and I saw the movie, I wasn't disappointed. The creepiness factor is similar to Stand By Me, rather than any of King's more overtly menacing stories. It's a slight plot, but with enough forward motion and depth of character to hold my interest. Still, there was something slightly off here, something I can't quite put my finger on. (Good thing I'm not a film critic, eh?)
Anyway, I mostly liked the movie because of the performances, and the portrayal of the sweet innocence of childhood that even the nastiest intrusions of the darker side of human nature can't destroy. The relationships between some of the characters are pulled and twisted in different directions, and sometimes strained to the limit, but they nearly always turn out to be salvageable.
Naturally, that's what I liked most about the movie. Any kind of optimism is welcome these days, even at the expense of high art. I like to see people trying to understand each other, and then, when it seems a lost cause, trying again and trying harder. The world can always use another example of kindness and hope triumphing over cruelty and cynicism.