Heart Of America

  • 2003
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

In the wake of both the Columbine school massacre and many similar subsequent events, screenwriter Robert Dean Klein paraphrases Tolstoy and concludes that all unhappy high schools are alike. On the last day of senior year, several Riverside High outcasts decide it's time for some payback. For years, non-conformist Daniel Lyne (Kett Turton) and sensitive...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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In the wake of both the Columbine school massacre and many similar subsequent events, screenwriter Robert Dean Klein paraphrases Tolstoy and concludes that all unhappy high schools are alike.

On the last day of senior year, several Riverside High outcasts decide it's time for some payback. For years, non-conformist Daniel Lyne (Kett Turton) and sensitive Barry Schultz (Michael Belyea) have endured savage bullying from other students, much of it incited by Ricky Herman (Brendan Fletcher), who's made it his business to incite a cabal of all-American sadists to make the misfits' lives a misery. Daniel and Barry's classmate, Dara McDermott (Elisabeth Rosen), has also been targeted for being "different" despite her privileged background, and while Barry has carefully hidden his bruises from his solicitous mom, Dara’s mother is too busy to notice her drug-abusing daughter’s anguish. In addition, Dara has been mocked by English teacher Mr. Pratt (Michael Pare), who ridiculed her personal essay in class. Daniel is profoundly depressed at the thought of the bleak blue-collar existence his father assures him lies in wait, while his tormentors dread the post-high school future in which they'll no longer rule the roost. Principal Lewis (Jurgen Prochnow) has made some effort to sensitize his staff to the problem of bullying, but he's more concerned that his daughter, Karyn (Stefanie McGillivray), get good grades and keep her football hero boyfriend, Tommy Bruno (Kevin Mundy) at bay. Tommy, meanwhile, has had sex with Dana, who only did it out of resentment of popular girls like Karyn and dreads being the subject of locker-room jibes. Now, it’s too late for Ricky to reflect on his cruelty, and it’s too late for Daniel to renege on a promise to himself: He's about to start tracking his persecutors through the corridors with a gun. The question is what Barry and Dana are going to do.

The familiarity of this ripped-from-the-headlines tragedy doesn’t dilute its impact. Although the screenwriter develops his victims like case studies, the combined efforts of much-maligned director Uwe Boll — whose theatrical output includes such video-game inspired features as BLOODRAYNE, HOUSE OF THE DEAD and AFRAID OF THE DARK— and his young cast breathe vivid life into this diatribe against officially ignored bullying.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: R
  • Review: In the wake of both the Columbine school massacre and many similar subsequent events, screenwriter Robert Dean Klein paraphrases Tolstoy and concludes that all unhappy high schools are alike. On the last day of senior year, several Riverside High outcas… (more)

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