The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, based on Carson McCullers’ novel, shows how the characters’ time together, despite of their reliance on its permanence, is fleeting. Mr. Singer (Alan Arkin) has to move from a smaller town as Antonapoulos’ (Chuck McCann) guardian, being confined at a facility in Jefferson, Georgia, a place wher he isn’t supposed to be. In Jefferson, he boards with the Kellys and works for an Afro-Caribbean doctor, dealing with the latter’s family troubles.
I like the Kelly’s daughter Mick (Sandra Locke), supposedly being more refined than her respectfully working class family is and will allow. There’s a scene when she hosts a party for the other neighborhood adolescents and they end up using her brother’s fireworks. She wants happiness and acceptance but will not compromise herself to get that from her peers – as they play with fireworks, she kicks them out of her property I would have let them play with the fireworks while moping.
Singer is the perfect friend for an ‘individual’ like Mick as he is with the doctor or a recovering alcoholic (Stacy Keach). He’s shunned by Mick but she changes change her mind when he starts buying her classical records even if he can’t enjoy them. Arkin is perfectly cast as Singer, even if it’s in the level of physical appearance. His dark features, making him look biracial, contributes in his role as a shamanistic mediator between the whites and blacks. He wears a suit and walks around, his silence read as pensive, altrustic and even happy.
Yes, there are ridiculous points in the film, like when the doctor’s son-in-law Willie stabs a racist man with his own knife instead of throwing it away. Or McCullers piling on departures and rejections and violence on Singer to drive him to his end. Was Singer not strong enough? Mick says that he was there for her and for everyone, and I wonder if anyone can withstand constantly being that person.