OK film but the plot is average and misses out on the chance to develop interesting characters and emotions within the main thriller plot
While Lee and Sue Cochrane are out at work, their nanny is out in the park with their baby, Simon. Leaving his pram outside a shop when she pops in to buy some supplies, the nanny is horrified to leave the shop and find the pram missing. The police are immediately alerted and Detective Inspector Craig is put on the case picking up what few leads there are and willing to consider even the thinnest of clues. Meanwhile Lee and Sue cannot contain themselves and set out to try and find Simon themselves, also following any sliver of information that comes from any source.
At the time this subject a child stolen away in a public place) must have seemed like the worst nightmare but also unrealistic enough to provide some security. Nowadays the subject is all too common and very publicly reported this makes the film a lot more relevant but also a lot less realistic since we know that this is not how these investigations go and, sadly, a lot of the most public cases end up with the child being found dead and abused rather than saved. This film opens with an oh-so-dated society of nannies with prams, green parks and married couples in single beds (where did Simon come from? Or was it just that once?) but launches straight into the tension with Simon being taken. The general air of tension is kept up but the plot doesn't do enough to help it by mixing it up with a light air and having a few too many red herrings without providing a satisfying narrative drive.
Maybe I'm being picky but the calm air of the police and public was a bit unconvincing and it made it harder to believe that they would calmly pick through bins looking for clues as their first course of action. Of course I know this is what they would do in the situation (or crawl across the area on hands and knees) but the air of calm was a real turn off. The hysteria of the parents is fine but the Nancy Drew investigation they go off on is silly and wastes the chance to really get to grips with the myriad of emotions that parents must feel in this situation. I would have preferred the film to have the police get into a tense race against time while the parents struggled with helplessness, guilt, anger, pain and turning on one another that would have been more interesting that having them really involved in the case, the parents on the news over the past few years seem far too shell-shocked to do anything like running round the woods!
The cast are average, mostly being far too wooden and unemotional. Farrar is a strong chinned lead but no more than that at any time; he and Knight have a bit of a p*ssing contest to see who can puff their chest out the furthest and be the most 'manly', but it only makes for unconvincing roles for the audience. Arnall is OK considering it was her first screen role, and she draws the emotion out well if only she had been given more time to does this as a focus and not an aside. In the support cast is a surprisingly amount of famous British faces looking all a bit young an unmistakable Barbara Winsor, Joan Sims and Thora Hird are the main ones but quite a few bit players are wheeled out to provide red herrings in fact I wonder if the fact that they were well-known could have been deliberate to make the audience think they were bigger parts of the mystery?
Overall this is an OK thriller but the stiff upper lip and rather calm approach takes away from the tension it should have had. The story is a bit weak and unconvincing and doesn't really deliver the goods in terms of the overall narrative and the development of characters and emotions but it does the job well enough for a rather dated piece of entertainment. Worth seeing if it's a dull Saturday afternoon.
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