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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

TV Movie surpasses the limits of the form

Author: Hound-2 from Providence, RI
10 October 1998

Brilliant TV movie. Dark, complex, well-acted, skillfully directed, and well-photographed, all the elements come together to make this a worthwhile viewing experience. I haven't read the novel, but I'd guess that the adaptor and director captured O'Brien's tone very well. The plot concerns a former Vietnam Vet who was running for political office but lost. His wife disappears shortly thereafter. The story is told in a mixture flash-backs and interviews. Strauss and Quinlan create real, three-dimensional characters, but of particular note are Boyle, who plays the campaign manager, and the actor (whose name I unfortunately forget) who plays the investigative journalist who exposes the secret which destroys the campaign. See if you can find it on video.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Sorcerer

6/10
Author: sol1218 from brooklyn NY
27 June 2005

***SPOILERS*** Surreal melodrama that goes in a number of different directions. Until you realize what really happened to defeated senatorial candidate John Waylan's, Peter Strauss, wife Kathy, Kathleen Quinlan. Who's been missing it what seemed to have been a boating accident.

Newspaper reporter Nat Leming, Horthgar Mathews, is out to break the big story about John wife's mysterious disappearance at the house that they were living in by the lake in the woods. Nat tries to get whatever information about the Waylands that he can from those who knew them. Like John's campaign manager Tony Carbo, Peter Boyle, and Kathy's sister Pat Hood,Nancy Soral. But Nat gets nowhere and it also seems that he's in some way holding himself responsible, for what happened to Kathy. By a story that he broke about her husband John just days before the election.

Finding out that John was involved in the infamous Son My massacre when he was a US infantry man during the Vietnam War Nat broke the story that broke the the back of Waylan steamroller that was well on it's way to put him in the US senate. With a 22 point lead evaporating over night John is left out of work without a job and a bleak future with the words "Baby Killer" stamped on his forehead.

Were left a bit confused to what happened to Kathy and what John had to do with her disappearance, if at all. Most of all were shown what John has been going through not only since Vietnam but far earlier in his life when he was a young boy fascinated with doing magic tricks.

At the time we meet john he looks like he's a shoo-in to get elected senator of the state of Minnisota. As his campaign falls apart, due to the revelation about his Vietnam experience, he turns inward and just gives up by living in a fantasy world that he created for himself. Were never really told what happened to Kathy, the viewer is shown a number of different scenarios. So in the end it's left up to the viewers imagination. One thing that isn't is that John is a very sick man who lost touch with reality. Due to the madness that consumed him, by the time the movie is over.

One thing in the film "In the lake of the Woods" that was a bit too much to take was the conduct of Sheriff Lux's, Ken Pogue, part-time deputy Person, Stephen E. Mille. Person was so obnoxious as well as unprofessional that I wondered how the sheriff could put up with his actions, that were anything but helpful in finding the missing Mrs. Waylan. Since they crossed the line of investigating a missing person to the point of having him, and his boss sheriff Lux, brought up on charges for making false and unfounded statements about, of all persons, the distraught husband of the missing woman!

We, as well as John, even had to put up with the uncouth deputy Person belting him twice, not once, in the mouth in full view of a number of witnesses, including Sheriff Lux. With John doing nothing at all to provoke him? Guilty or not John has the right of being considered innocent until proved guilty in a court of law. Persons actions would have made any trial of John be thrown out of court by the presiding judge. In fact John was never even arrested much less charged with Kathy's murder.

All I could think of in explaining Deputy Person's uncivil behavior is that he must have had friends in high places in government for him to feel safe in acting that way.

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A realistic and gripping mystery!!

10/10
Author: Dylan Keyne from United Kingdom
25 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A fantastic film based on the novel of the same name by Tim O'Brien.

When making a film of a book, there is a right way and a wrong one. I get the distinct feeling that this is the right way!!

There are often so many complexities and dimensions to a literary character that sometimes one simply cannot translate that into film... This is one of those exceptions.

Strauss and Quinlan head an impressive cast and lead us deep into this mystery with gripping skill. Both play their roles to the very hilt, bringing massively complex characters right off the page and into the reality of this film.

The supporting cast too have been well chosen for their acting skills; - Peter Boyle brings us skin-crawling repulsion for selfish and seedy campaign manager Tony Carbo, Richard Anderson and Pamela Perry are wonderfully caring neighbours the Rasmussens, Nancy Sorel as Kathy's sister who never really trusted John... and Hrothgar Matthews as journalist Nat Leming so unscrupulously persistent to "getting the story" and uncaringly aloof to the damage it has on those involved.

Special mention must go to Stephen Miller for his portrayal of deputy Vinny Pearson. So immediately judgemental and so repulsive to watch during the scene where he punches John, knowing full well that no-one will try and stop him - He is the voice that speaks the secret thoughts of a whole community who, despite their earnest and dutiful diligence in searching for the missing Kathy, still regard John with the same baseless suspicion as his sister-in-law. A fantastic personification of the many cruel twists that fate throws at John.

And yet, the star of the show is Peter Strauss as John Waylan. We feel so much pity for this man, burdened by the weight of such an unlucky life at no fault of his own... Yet has he now possibly been 'turned to the dark side' and has had fate delivered into his own hands by the final failing of his sanity? Who will you believe?

A true mystery and a film that is both entertaining as well as thought-provoking and engaging.

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