America's Heart and Soul (USA; 84 min.)

directed by: Louis Schwartzberg
America's Heart and Soul

Peg says: "Director Louis Schwartzberg was once employed by one of the world’s largest film-stock libraries. That may explain why many of the images in this film (more a collection of portraits than a documentary) are familiar: the Bandaloop dance company, which hangs from harnesses and tethers to dance in space on mountains in California, as seen on CBS’s Sunday Morning; Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountain climber, as seen in the documentary As Far As the Eye Can See; Rick and Dick Hoyt, the father-son Boston Marathon team, as seen on many local news programs. Schwartzberg is an image collector who has spent years photographing Americans whose lives are way more fulfilling, spiritual, or ethical (pick one) than yours or mine. Despite a syrupy score and hoky intertitles about dreams and freedom, some of the sequences are moving. Maybe you’ll root for the dairy farmer/filmmaker in Vermont, or the New Orleans jazz trumpeter, or the Manhattan bike messenger, or the Los Angeles salsa company, or the steel workers in West Virginia, or the gospel singer in Mississippi. In the end, this film describes what it is to live in the huge and diverse nation that is America, and it does so with barely a trace of jingoism or flag waving. Charles Kuralt would have been proud."

Review Courtesy of the Boston Phoenix