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Why a good film takes more than high ambitions; 'Heart Beat', Starring Sissy Spacek, Nick Nolte, John Heard. Written and directed by John Byrum.

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This movie has high ambitions. It begins with an atom- bomb blast, to remind us of the "nuclear nightmare" that developed after World War II. Then there's a montage of America settling into the dull and stodgy 1950s. Then, just when it seems that all is lost, enter the "beat generation" -- with loud music, frantic poetry, and a manic nonconformity.

The stage is now set for a shamelessly inept dramatization of the life of Jack Kerouac, author of "On the Road" and other beat chronicles. We see him fall in love with his best friend's wife. We see them all move in together. We see their menage a trois degenerate into petty quarrels and personality conflicts. And we are stricken with awe to observe how tedious these people are , and we wonder if they could possibly have been this uninteresting in real life. When Kerouac finally sells a novel, it's the saddest moment in the movie -- how can you bore yourself and your friends into a stupor when esciting things like this keep happening?

The end of the film is inconclusive. But then, so is the beginning and the middle.


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