Call it the dark side of Home Alone as 12-year-old Aaron (newcomer Jesse Bradford does himself proud) is forced to survive by his wits in a St. Louis transient hotel during the Depression. With his mother (Lisa Eichhorn) hospitalized and his salesman father (Jeroen Krabbe) on the road, Aaron struggles to mask his fears of abandonment. The strain nearly kills him.
Based on a memoir by A.E. Hotchner, King of the Hill is another wild-card choice for writer-director Steven Soderbergh following sex, lies, and videotape and Kafka. He stays alert to Aaron’s humor and resiliency under pressure. The richly atmospheric film pierces the heart without ever begging for sympathy.