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Drama - Family

The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)


Duration 1h 46m Rating (UK) 12
Source of story A book of the same name by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Director Ulu Grosbard
Writers/Script Stephen Schiff
Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Treat Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, John Kapelos

Elevator Pitch: Beth Cappadora goes to a college reunion in a large hotel, briefly leaving her eldest son Vincent with his younger brother Ben, in the lobby. When she returns Ben has disappeared, but Vincent does not know what happened. She searches, engages the help of the hotel staff, and later her husband and then the police, but the boy is gone, and it seems never to be found. Beth becomes virtually comatose, unable to get out of her own way, despite the fact that her children are growing up, and her husband is becoming  successful restauranteur. Then a boy knocks on the door offering to mow her lawn. She believes that it is Ben.

Content: The boy is lost in the hotel. Thereafter we experience the distress of the family, particularly the mother and, to a degree, the resentment of the eldest son, who is ignored in the aftermath of the disaster. But life goes on in the suburbs where everybody lives in smart spacious houses, with crisp lawns and double garages. It would not be a spoiler to say that the boy with the mower turns out to be Ben, who is restored to the family, but who misses his fake father, who had been told by his wife, now dead, that the boy had been adopted. In ths emotional tug of war who will win? And is there a winner anyway?

A View: The emotional distress felt as the result of the loss – literally – of a child was well presented, but unfortunately it gradually tipped downhill from there. It was not liked much by the critics who generally panned it and as it turned out there had been several rewrites mainly to change the ending. My sympathies lay with the father who thought he had an adopted son, but who in the end is virtually ignored by everybody. So not really a watch even if you like emotional drama.

Additional Info: The book from which the film was developed was the first to be reviewed on Oprah Winfrey.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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