Synopsis by Mark Deming
Actress and filmmaker Asia Argento directed this faithful screen adaptation of the fictional J.T. Leroy's fictional memoir, which documents a boy's truly harrowing road to adulthood. Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett) is the seven-year-old son of Sarah (Asia Argento), an unstable and unwed mother who abandoned her son and left him to be raised by foster parents. Jeremiah has come to love his guardians, and is devastated when Sarah arrives at their doorstep, demanding her child back. Threatening Jeremiah with torture if he tries to run away, Sarah introduces her young son to drugs and encourages her one-night-stand paramours to help "discipline" her son when she feels his behavior is inappropriate. Sarah marries a man named Emerson (Jeremy Renner), but abandons him shortly afterward; Emerson responds by molesting Jeremiah, and soon the child is left in the care of his grandparents (Peter Fonda and Ornella Muti), members of a fundamentalist Christian sect which emphasizes child discipline that's strict to the point of abuse. After three years, Sarah returns with a new husband, Kenny (Matt Schulze), and takes Jeremiah (now played by Dylan Sprouse and Cole Sprouse) with her; Kenny spends most of his time on the road as a trucker, and Sarah supports the family at home as a stripper and a prostitute. Sarah also begins dressing her son is girl's clothing, which excites the perverse appetites of Sarah's latest boyfriend, Jackson (Marilyn Manson); she soon leaves Jackson and pairs off with Chester (Jeremy Sisto), a biker with a dangerous way of making a living. The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things premiered at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened as part of the "Directors Fortnight" series.
child-abuse, child-molestation, parent/child-relationship, drug-addiction, pedophilia, prostitute/prostitution