Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer) is at a school reunion in a big Chicagohotel with her tiny kids; she goes to register and leaves the older, Vincent, to watch the 3 year old Ben. But in the minute she is away, Ben disappears. The angst and guilt infects everyone. Eventually, life has to go on. Nine years later, now 12, Ben is a happily adopted child with no memory of his real parents Beth and Pat (Treat Williams) or of his troubled teenage brother Vincent (Jonathan Jackson). But they end up living two blocks away and the inevitable happens. Only the reunion is not as easy as anyone could imagine.

"Moving, poignant and totally engulfing, Deep End of the Ocean is a rocky ride on the liner of emotions. At last, a Hollywood film that expresses real, not plastic emotions. The autumn leaves are falling and hearts are breaking over the loss of a small child. Winter brings snow, Christmas and despair. Reliable turns to forgetful, carefree turns to obsessed. Life takes on a different colour. We are in the deep end of the ocean and we are drowning. Starting with a story line that will break every mother's heart, the soul of the film lies in the extraordinary detail of the delicate balance of relationships. We explore the myriad of actions and reactions, the consequences, the damage, the guilt, the obsession, the pain and the joy. There's much honesty expressed; many will see some of themselves in these characters. Michelle Pfeiffer is dazzling in a dramatic, non-glamorous role that is overwhelming in depth, passion and emotion. Treat Williams's performance is wonderfully controlled and understated, while Jonathan Jackson is a standout as the sibling who is blamed. Stephen Goldblatt's cinematography stirs, while Elmer Bernstein's magnificent score sets the guidelines to our response. Intelligent, heartfelt and inspiring, Deep End of the Ocean is an extraordinary journey with our most prized possessions – our feelings. Take a tissue or two – better still, take a box."
Louise Keller

"The joys of Deep End of the Ocean are many - from the career-defining performance by Michelle Pfeiffer to the sensitive adaptation, this film delivers what it sets out to deliver. It is unashamedly emotive, with its story of a tiny boy stolen from his mother. Primal instinct and genetic responses hardwired into our psyche make this a surefire attention grabber. But the film succeeds, almost faultlessly, in its attempt at how this story is told. The only reservation I have is in the treatment of the surrogate father who is ignorant of his son’s real genesis; the parents are decent people and I find their initial treatment of him (and their son) unbelievably insensitive. That aside, the film carries us along and involves us in the drama with intimate close ups and an emotion-triggering underscore, not to mention the open performances that lead straight to the heart. Not a film for the cynical or the thrill seekers with padded cells for emotive tissue, Deep End of the Ocean manages to skirt sentimentality while taking us into a hypothetical situation we can understand and respond to."
Andrew L. Urban

"Few American films are able to deal with the issues explored in this exquisite film, without resorting to high melodrama. This, then, makes Deep End of the Ocean, a faithful adaptation of the novel a rewarding and compelling cinema experience. What is special about Deep End is its ability to thematically delve into a number of issues, from the fragmentation of family, through to guilt and redemption, yet do so in a way that is not the slightest heavy-handed. Director Ulu Grosbard handles the material with a quiet emotional restraint, yet at the same time, the film's humanity gives the film a realistic emotional truth. It's the film's honesty that makes it the experience of this film so worthwhile. As it is a faithful rendition of the novel, the movie works exceptionally well, failing to be too obvious for audiences who like things explained. As for the performances, they are remarkable, though as usual, Pfeiffer's radiant presence and detailed portrayal of a complex character, is compelling. Deep End of the Ocean is a haunting study of family, a powerful and intricate work which reminds us that there are few richly evocative films that come to us via the studio system. This is one of those films."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Michelle Pfeiffer, Treat Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Jackson, Ryan Merriman, John Kapelos, Michael McElroy

DIRECTOR: Ulu Grosbard

PRODUCER: Kate Guinzberg, Steve Nicolaides

SCRIPT: Stephen Schiff (from Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen Goldblatt

EDITOR: John Bloom

MUSIC: Elmer Bernstein


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes



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