'Deep in the Heart' Review: Texan's Redemption Tale Recalls Hollywood's Golden Age

Deep in the Heart” is the sort of film that Hollywood long ago abandoned: a solid drama with an uplifting theme.

The movie chronicles the life of Richard “Dick” Wallrath, a hardscrabble Texan whose alcoholism damages his children, destroys his marriage, and nearly leads to suicide; then follows his arduous climb out of the pit of addiction as he tries to reconcile with his family
while helping others around him.

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Jon Gries’ portrayal of Dick Wallrath, now a Lone Star State legend who’s given away some $16 million in scholarships to 4H and Future Farmers of America, is gritty, touching, funny, and completely real and at ease. That he took the time to study Wallrath on his beloved Champion Ranch shows – Gries’ acting is superb.

The cast supporting Gries is strong, with Val Kilmer making appearances when Gries’ character struggles with his inner demons. The relationship between Wallrath and his youngest daughter Deede (Rheagan Wallace) and Gary (James Haven), her boyfriend, then husband, was especially satisfying to see unfold. The artful interplay between a protective and skeptical father and his youngest daughter’s suitor was priceless – especially in this day of CGI explosions and mindless plots.


Brian Hoffman and Josh Fasulo wrote and Christopher Cain directed this Jay Hoffman production.

Gov. Rick Perry officiated Deep in the Heart’s Austin, Texas premier (he had a cameo as himself in the film) and was attended by Jon Voight, James Haven’s father.

That a film about a Texan was made in Texas probably isn’t news – except for the fact that Hollywood is increasingly making a home in a state where lower taxes, less regulatory red tape and right-to-work union rules make it easier to make a profit, whether while running a business or making a movie.


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