“Deep End of the Ocean” tells the story of a Wisconsin woman, Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer) who takes her three children to her high school reunion in Chicago and promptly loses one of them, 3-year old Ben.
Beth is introduced as a scatter-brained woman who has to rely on her husband Pat (Treat Williams) and older son Vincent for support in coping with family matters. Yet, once in Chicago, and as we all know, it only takes a minute for a little kid to disappear.
The little happy family is no more. Beth and Pat spend many months actively searching for Ben; Vincent grows to be a troubled teenager, while daughter Kerry grows up never even knowing the brother she once had. It’s all fairly boring, although Treat Williams does a very good job in holding back what we all wanted to say a lot earlier on … that it was her fault. Nevertheless, Pat is determined to keep what’s left of his family together and happy even if it’s just on face value.
Nine years later, the family moves to Chicago where Pat and his father open their own restaurant. The family seems to be holding their own with the exception of an obviously troubled Vincent who seems to care very little about anything. Then out of the blue, 12-year old Sam shows up at the house one day asking to mow the lawn. Beth is taken by the boy’s appearance. He’s exactly the way Ben would have looked at that age.
It’s a lot more interesting from this point on as they discover that Sam really is Ben. And the issues of taking back a boy who has lived happily elsewhere for three times as many years as he spent with them is a very troubling one that sends both families reeling in turmoil.
Treat Williams plays Pat as a stubborn, self righteous man who feels his life doesn’t deserve to be so tormented. He hardly knows or cares about Vincent. Michelle Pfeiffer has to cope with a role, that wavers between sympathetic and annoying. Jonathan Jackson as the teenaged Vincent does the best job, I think, in portraying an obviously guilt-ridden and troubled boy who made the mistake of letting go of his little brother’s hand years ago.
Lotta says: this is a good family drama but the first half is definitely a bore.