This is definitely a film which shouldn't fire you up, but it should hit you like a tonne of bricks. There are so many films that I have reviewed which have not had a 100% serious tone all the way through, but The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, is an emotional train wreck. This isn't something that you can watch over and over again. I have seen this film three times now, and each time I have watched this, it makes me feel dirty and vile. Why? Because you see this drugged up and fucked up single mother disrespecting herself but also her son. For the most part she doesn't care what really happens to him, but at the same time, she gets constantly used and abused and in the end she has no one...but her young son.
So here's the run down. Asia Argento portrays Sarah who just possesses everything that is wrong with the world. She gave birth to a son called Jeremiah but he was taken to live with foster parents. But now she has him back. So while Sarah is off screwing a guy she barely knows, Jeremiah is just trying to work out what is going on in his life with his 23 year old mother. He doesn't understand it, but it starts to take over his life and he seems to think that is the norm, and he does begin to adjust to it. So in other words it's a disgusting mother and son journey which at the end will leave you right back where you started at the beginning of the film. While this film doesn't achieve the normal standards in terms of an ending of a film, it just makes you think. It makes you think, what the hell is going to happen to this kid when he gets older. How is all of this going to affect him? As much as I hate his mother, there are small times where you can see this conflicted young woman who wouldn't have turned out this way if it wasn't for her extremely religious upbringing which turned her to drugs.
Asia Argento is beyond vile in this film. And that is exactly how we are supposed to see her. Her character Sarah grew up in an extremely religious house, it kinda remind's me of the Westboro Baptist Church. Obviously she gave birth to Jeremiah when she was a teenager, and wasn't able to look after him. When she eventually gets Jeremiah back from the foster family she just unbalances everything her son knows about life. She is extremely erratic because of the drug and alcohol abuse. She has extremely clouded judgement when it comes to men. She gets into relationships with men who clearly just see her for sex and they mistreat her and Jeremiah. When all her relationships end, she instantly blames Jeremiah, she doesn't even bother to look at the disgusting person she has become over the years because of all the substance abuse. Now as much as I hate her character in this film there are small moments where Sarah legitimately shows affection to her son. She knows after all the men who treat her horribly she only has one person left in her life who loves her and that is Jeremiah. There are moments where you see a tiny connection between them, and it can look extremely simple yet sweet. But then a tidal wave of depravity and viciousness washes over those sweet moments, and you remember why you hate her so much. She constantly lies to Jeremiah to make him think she is the only person he can truly depend on.
The story of Jeremiah is a sad one. He lived with his foster parents who truly loved and made him feel appreciated and didn't seem to mistreat him. All that love was shattered when his real mum came and took him back into her loathsome life. During the first half of the film you can see he is unsure on how to act around his mother because she is so hot and cold with him. But he realises how she wants him to be, and at times he just goes along with it, because it is the only thing that protects him from her wrath. From a young age he has seen a lot, and while he still maintains an innocence about him, it is frightening to think how he may turn out to be. At the beginning of the film you see this little boy who just doesn't understand and agree to what his mother is doing and what she is putting him through. But at the end of the film, it's obvious he loves her and hates her and needs her in his life as much as she needs him.
Asia Argento did a great job with not only portraying Sarah, but also writing the screenplay and directing this film. She really makes it clear of what kind of disgusting people are out there, and how we stand idly by and let them get away with the things they do. Argento delves into a lot of issues in this film, and I am not going to lie, by the end of it, you will feel drained, and you may feel a bit disgusted and down. It hits you like a tonne of bricks, because of the honesty and brutality of life, that some have to endure more than others. If you watch this film and don't like it, because of the graphic content and find that too hard to watch, then that is understandable. But if you do not like this film for trivial reasons or plot holes or finding certain issues of this film unbelievable. Then you need to get out into the real world and ACTUALLY open your eyes. I am not saying that this film is the be all and end all of brutally honest films, because it isn't. But it is certainly an underrated piece of cinema, which deserves to be looked at with a clear and open mind.
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, is a film I have tried to get people to watch many times. I have told quite a few people about it, and they have given me several reasons why they don't want to watch. The main one is that Asia Argento is 'riding the coat tails' of what her dad has achieved in cinema and trying to copy what he has done. Firstly Dario Argento is a master of the Giallo genre. But Asia has branched off and done her own thing with this film. Sure it portrays horror, but not what the average film goer thinks horror is. This film portrays real life horror, the things we have to endure every single day. This is about the people who are in bad situations, they are so deep into these disgusting and horrible things, that they cannot drag themselves out of. That in some ways can possess more 'horror' than any Giallo film. Another reason is when I have showed people the cover of the DVD they say, 'oh that looks shit'. We are all guilty of doing that, but I think we need to stop doing that especially when it is clearly something we haven't heard anything about.
Go into this film with an open mind and watch it for the dirtiness that it is. This film isn't meant to entertain you the same way a run of the mill Hollywood blockbuster does. If anything this film should make you question why we do these vile things to each other, and in the end what do we achieve from it?