Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel hangs on so implausible a twist, that it's easy to mistake it for real life. Beth Cappadora (Pfeiffer) is a professional photographer and mother of three. Attending a high school reunion with kids in tow (baby Kerry, three-year-old Ben, older brother Vincent), Beth turns her back for just a minute or two, and Ben disappears from her life. Then, out of the blue, after nine years of bereavement, she recognises her missing son in the face of some kid down the road who wants to mow her lawn. This Pfeiffer vehicle made no impact at the US box office, but despite the TV movie subject matter, it's surprisingly absorbing. Director Grosbard's restraint holds sentimentality off screen, recognising that grief is most poignantly an intimate, internalised affair, even within the closest families. The film gains its interest from that troubling question about what constitutes a family: if this is Ben, oblivious to his real identity, should his blood parents uproot him once again? For his sake - or theirs? Pfeiffer has never been afraid to relinquish glamour on screen; now she's also confident enough to relinquish centre stage in the last act to Vincent (Jackson, excellent) and Ben (Merriman, irritating). Worth a detour.
The Deep End of the Ocean
Cast and crew