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|Index||33 reviews in total|
My wife and I found this on our pay per view channel, and from the
synopsis, thought it looked worth watching. We were not disappointed.
This is a very good film, in the genre of "Chinatown" and "Changeling".
The story (without spoilers), is briefly as follows:
A police detective (John Hamm) has lost his only son eight years earlier, when he went to the restroom in a diner. The usual guilt and strain on his marriage ensues, as he tries to go through life with this unsolved mystery haunting him.
He is drawn into a case of another missing child, and becomes obsessed with that search, to try to find some vindication for what has happened to him. Throughout this exploration, the story is told in two stories, of him and the father of the other missing child, creating parallels, and differences in the two cases.
Eventually the dots connect and lead to a very dramatic ending. although it's a little too neatly tied up.
This is a very entertaining movie, which grabs your interest from the start, engages you with the duplicate stories throughout, and provides some twists and turns at the end, for added effect.
I really enjoyed it and am surprised that it wasn't released theatrically, as I think it is much better than the current "Ghost Writer", for example. It's a good mystery tale, and very worth watching!
STOLEN is a small budget film that deals with a major problem - loss of
a child by abduction and the desperate need to find that child despite
the passage of many years. Writer Glenn Taranto and Director Anders
Anderson present two cases of kidnapping and murder, space them fifty
years apart and interconnect the two stories in a way that is both
disturbing psychologically and confusing as a film. It works on many
levels and the absence of information about motivation interferes with
allowing this movie to be more powerful.
Ten years ago police officer Tom Adkins, Sr (Jon Hamm) left his only son Tom Jr. in a diner for a moment, only to return and find him missing. His abilities as a law enforcement officer and his guilt as a 'negligent' father erodes his life and his marriage to Barbara (Rhona Mitra): he is unable to give up the search for his missing son despite the ten years of absence, a factor that practically drives his marriage to divorce. A body is found in a box and Tom Sr immediately thinks it is his son, but investigation reveals that it is the body of a child that has been dead for fifty years. The film then begins a series of flashbacks to a story fifty years ago when a young father Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas), having lost all of his money and home and facing the resultant suicide of his wife decides he must place his three children with relatives: one son, John (Jimmy Bennett), is mentally challenged, and Matthew's relatives will only take the two 'normal' boys, leaving John to live with his unemployed father. Matthew finds a room for the two of them and begins works at a construction site, John tags along to be with his dad - a problem for the boss of the construction site. Matthew forms friends with Diploma (James Van Der Beek) and Swede (Holt McCallany), is diverted by a sexual liaison, and during that time John is abducted. We lose track of Matthew at this point, but jumping back to the present the discovered boy's body proves to be John Wakefield and this discovery consumes Tom Sr to uncover the murderer of the Wakefield boy, hoping that in some way it ties in with the disappearance of his own son. The plot becomes a bit murky at this point and a bit to 'rush to climax', but needless to say the murders are connected and Tom Sr and his wife are able to come to grips with the fact that Tom Jr is lost forever.
The film is shot in a a somewhat sepia color when dealing with the murder of fifty years ago and remains dusty appearing through the present - not unlike the soil that has hidden the uncovered truths so well. The acting is fine, with some very fine cameo appearances by Johanna Cassidy as Tom Sr.'s mother and Jessica Chastain and Rose Montgomery as the feminine influences. The makeup artists have done the film a disservice as they try to age people fifty years as the film winds down: to say more would be to give away the ending. But the reason the film works is the commitment behind relating these tragedies on the part of all concerned. It is especially noteworthy in that it is the work of a relatively inexperienced writer and director.
Perhaps the most daunting prospect for anyone wanting to watch this
film is not piecing together the identification of a serial killer, it
is watching the unraveling of the police detective and his marriage as
the loss of his son, grabbed whilst momentarily out of sight, taunts
him even eight years after it happened. This film does not let go of
the torture this father endures as he tries to piece together all the
similarities between his loss and that of a previous child whose body
has been discovered. We observe how his wife comes slowly to terms with
the fact her son may be dead, but he cannot let go.
The story is never easily told perhaps because the director wished us to explore the notion that reality is seldom something we confront without absolute proof. At times the acting is so real we may feel like giving up on this father because if he cannot let go then we can, but we persevere as he does.
Although I felt the story could have been better told I did end up admiring this work simply because it is very human exposing all the faults and frailties of our lives. It is also ultimately cathartic with a natural release with allows us to breathe again.
It is certainly a fine film and well worth watching.
This thriller, starring "Mad Men's" John Hamm, while watchable,
ultimately fails through implausible plotting and the contrived use of
Consider Hamm's anguished cop, who, at a Fourth of July pageant, in the mere minutes it took him to go to and from the toilet in a diner establishment, finds the son who accompanied him has apparently disappeared as if into thin air, never to return. It later transpires that he encounters the perpetrator just outside the diner, so how has he managed to spirit away his son and got back to the pageant in those mere minutes?
Years pass, with Hamm unable to get over his loss and attendant guilt, the emotional distance between him and his wife widening close to separation point, when a child's body is unearthed, bearing similarities to his own child and immediately throwing suspicion on a long-interred suspect. The movie then moves back and forth in time from the present-day to 1958 where we see enacted the story of the disappearance (thankfully, there are no scenes depicting the actual murder of the children) of the first child and the truth is gradually brought to light as the stories converge.
That's quite a lot to bring together in a mere 90 minutes and after all the exposition, the ending is wound up in double quick time, with a too blatant slip by the murderer and too easily obtained subsequent confession. I also thought the 1958 story was more involving, if more implausible than the present-day one, contriving a "Postman Always Rings Twice" dalliance between the father and a local femme-fatale, complete with jealous husband, unbalancing the narrative, although the transitions between the two time-frames were cleverly done, with dissolves on the shared crime-scene exhibits.
The acting was okay, Hamm jutting his jaw and running his hand through his hair in familiar angst-ridden fashion, although I thought the better acting was done by Josh Lucas as his 1950's counterpart, conveying just the right composite of Henry Fonda crossed with James Stewart as the drifter at the mercy of fate, while Morena Baccarin and James Van der Beek playing respectively the slack wife and the murderer made strong, if brief impressions too.
In the end, this was a fairly routine thriller, lacking somewhat in tension, characterisation and credibility, with more of the aspects of a TV movie than Hollywood feature. I don't think I'd pay to watch it, seeing it on the small-screen seemed about right.
I had never heard of this film before chancing upon it recently. The
premise sounded OK so I decided to watch it expecting something very
much run of the mill.
The film centres on a policeman's (Jon Hamm) search to uncover the truth behind the discovery of a 50 year old corpse of a child. It also interweaves the story of a young man (Josh Lucas) and his 3 sons as he struggles to support his family in 1950's America. The 1950's storyline in particular is dealt with extremely well but both story lines link well together throughout the movie.
I have never seen anything of Hamm's previous work and only Posieden of Lucas but was impressed by both actors who conveyed the sense of loss of a child impressively throughout. Lucas in particular was I thought outstanding. The children in the film were also impressive especially Jimmy Bennett. The rest of the cast had less to work with and the characters weren't fully fleshed out but this was probably due to the relatively short running period of the film.
Once it hits its stride (fairly early on) this film never lets go. I found it quite moving and disturbing at the same time and for viewers with children this film will hit home in particular.
Whilst it does have a few flaws, for a relatively low budget film this is extremely impressive.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just caught this on Sundance, where it was billed as a "taut thriller."
Since it featured Jon Hamm and Josh Lucas, things sounded very
To be fair, most of the acting in this flick is pretty good good enough, in fact, to keep you essentially engrossed throughout, despite the horde of art direction gaffes and plot / characterization holes wide enough to drive a 1958 Chevelle through several times over. Bottom line: This movie has a terrific premise and solid acting, but the painfully weak script keeps it mired in B-movie territory.
Detective Tom Adkins (Hamm) is tormented by guilt for having momentarily left his 10-year-old son alone at their table in an old diner, which leads to the boy getting abducted. Eight years later, the case remains unsolved and his marriage still deeply troubled by tensions you assume are due to Tommy, Jr.'s disappearance (but that largely go unaddressed). You are told that Tom has been obsessed with the case, spending hours in Jr.'s room and hounding a felon convicted for similar crimes for clues or a confession about his own son.
When the body of a "boy in a box" is found after being buried for 50 years, we begin a VERY long parallel journey with another father, Matthew Wakefield (Lucas), whose youngest son is also abducted and you guessed it the two cases wind up being very connected, indeed. Yet we spend far more time back in the 1958 story than in the present; when we are returned to the present day, it's almost as if the director and screenwriter do so just to clumsily move the "these stories are related" bits along before going back to the past with sighs of relief.
There are some fairly skillful visual transitions on screen as we move between the past and present story lines, but the editing techniques are far more adept than the script's.
For one thing, there's just no "thrill" in this "thriller." Although Detective Adkins is ostensibly "investigating" the parallel 50-year-old abduction and murder, most of our knowledge of that older case comes directly from watching it unfold on screen, rather than through any leads Adkins actually unearths. ***SPOILER ALERTS*** Even more maddeningly, the most obvious, early clue a whistle both boys got from eating at the same diner 50 years apart isn't even investigated by Adkins until much later in the film. And for a haunted man who's spent hours over the years in his son's room, staring at all the things he insists be left intact there it somehow doesn't dawn on Adkins until nearly the end of the movie that the corroded toy found with the dead boy strongly resembles a metal rabbit in Tommy Jr.'s own toy box. Finally, all the foreshadowing with the felon Adkins suspects of being responsible for Tommy's death spoils what little tension surrounds this character.
As for the art direction . . . Well, the 1950s NEVER looked like this! As many, many others here have already noted, the hairstyles worn by every single character in this movie aren't at all contemporary with the period. A central photograph is given a Photoshop "retro" treatment, but still looks wholly contemporary, as do many of the so-called 1950s fashions worn. To complain may sound like carping -- but this laziness in recreating the period we spend so much time in REALLY detracts from 1) your ability to truly sink into the story, and 2) your attempt to respect the filmmakers here. Even some of the dialog and the characters' behavior seem out of sync with 1950s mores and attitudes.
Finally, all the characters in this film (with the possible exception of Matthew Wakefield) are pretty thinly drawn. It's testament to Hamm's acting skills that we understand as much as we do about his misery. But his long-suffering wife remains an utter cipher throughout, as does the character who winds up being the killer of both boys. We all laugh at that "Um, what's my motivation here?" spoof of actors but these characters sure could have used some! Because without that underlying texture of personality and motive, everything is reduced to simple plot mechanics; you stay with the story not because you really care about these people, but simply because you want to find out who did it.
The plot is pretty simple: a man who is searching for his lost son gets
wrapped up in a parallel mystery from 50 years earlier. It isn't
intended to be a Hitchcockian thriller with lots of action, twists &
turns, but instead it's a great character study into the mind of a man
who borders on obsession. It asks the questions: when are we supposed
to let go, and if we do pursue closure, at what cost? Over the course
of his many-year investigation, the man's life becomes a total mess,
and in that respect we see some interesting parallels with the
excellent Clint Eastwood film "In the Line of Fire" (about a secret
service agent who fails to save JFK and who is tasked with foiling a
similar assassination decades later). Both films ask us what is the
difference between perseverance and obsession? The answer, even after
the credits roll, is up to you.
Something I really liked about this film is the way the director used surrealism to blend the two timelines, 1958 and 2008. Scenes would blend seamlessly from one to the other. For example, there's one shot in a bar where the camera flows through the room beginning in 2008 and ending in 1958 without any cuts. This subtle style, in addition to the underlying mystery of the whole story, forces the audience to keep on their toes.
The basic plot is pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of background questions & themes that are not as obvious. These questions give the film substance. Religion is a minor theme that crops up visually in the form of crucifixes and subtle lighting effects. Guilt is another subtle yet powerful theme. I also sense a bit of existentialism in that the heroes are subjected to some rotten luck without any apparent rhyme or reason, and it is only through the individuals' strength of character that they manage to make it through the day. In all, there's a ton of stuff going on, and if you like your films to be full of philosophy and questions of morality, this will be a real treat for you.
Other great films worth checking out are "Changeling" (2008) about a woman searching for her lost son, "A Very Long Engagement" (2004) about a woman searching for a soldier reportedly killed in action, the aforementioned "In the Line of Fire" (1993) about a secret service agent trying to redeem himself for losing JFK, and a wonderful unknown gem called "Into Temptation" (2009) about a priest trying to find a suicidal confessor before it's too late.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Man, movies like this are almost a shame. Except for two things, Stolen
is a well crafted journey into the most horrible thing that can happen
to any parent and how life tries to go on afterward. Take any moment of
this film not affected by those two previously mentioned things and
you'd be impressed with the acting, direction and the writing. But
those two things just cripple the whole narrative and leaves it limping
like an Olympic sprinter who just pulled his hamstring. What makes it
so bad is that the problems with those two things are so screamingly
obvious, it's impossible to understand how no one involved with this
production didn't see and recognize what needed to be fixed. Granted,
fixing those two things would have likely required some significant
changes to the rest of Stolen which is otherwise perfectly okay as it
is. The difference between good and great, however, is often the
willingness to do that. To not ignore or brush aside a weakness in a
script because it's too fundamental to the story to alter without
altering everything else. If those two flaws had been addressed, this
would have been a different motion picture. It also would have been a
Tom Adkins (Jon Hamm) is a police detective in 2008 still haunted by the disappearance of his son 8 years ago when the two of them stopped at a roadside diner on the 4th of July. When a small corpse is uncovered at a construction site, Tom thinks the worst but it turns out to be the body of a boy who died 50 years before his son. As Tom investigates in his time, we flash back 50 years to Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas) and his youngest son, John (Jimmy Bennett). With his wife a suicide and his other two boys taken in by his sister-in-law, Matt and the mentally-challenged John hit the road in a desperate search for work. As their tale cruises toward John's inevitable death, Tom is driven to solve that crime as a substitute for his missing child. And as you can probably guess, Tom discovers that the two are connected.
Let me state that I quite liked watching Stolen for a long way through. No one can brood on screen like Jon Hamm and the way he keeps the awful pain of Tom's lost son an inch under his skin at every moment is almost mesmerizing. Matthew and John being tossed about by fate like bits of flotsam in a storm is also compelling, even though you know how it's going to end. Director Anders Anderson uses some amazing transitions to take us between the ages and both Jessica Chastain and Morena Baccarin shine in their roles. If you've never seen either woman before, you end the film wanting to see a lot more of both. I would still call this a good movie.
But there are those two things. Others may not mind then and perhaps I'm being too finicky, but they're such glaring narrative mistakes that I cannot overlook them. One if that Tom has a suspect in his son's abduction. The other is the nature of the connection between the two missing/dead boys.
First, the suspect. He's a character who, when he enters the story, is in prison for "similar crimes" to the disappearance of Tom's son. Any viewer will therefore naturally assume he's guilty, which could have been the basis of a great twist but isn't. So, the audience starts out knowing who killed Tom's son and when it becomes clear that killing is linked with the dead boy from 1958, the audience also immediately knows who's responsible for that death. Stolen is a mystery that spoils its own mystery and doesn't seem to realize it. Another problem with the suspect is that he's already behind bars, which really throws a monkey wrench in trying to create any tension or drama around him. There's a reference to his conviction being overturned, but if that happened Tom would instantly be on the guy like white on rice. The suspect being in prison is what protects him, so the idea he might get out is actually a good thing if you're rooting for Tom. Furthermore, there's a major difference emotionally and psychologically from having a missing child and suspecting a specific person has killed your child. The latter is what's going on in this movie but Tom and his wife (Rhona Mitra) act like they're living through the former. For pity's sake, Tom's wife never even mentions or refers to the guy in prison and it's beyond belief that Tom hasn't shared his suspicions with her.
And then there's the connection between the two killings. Yes, the same person did both. What's wrong is that you could have taken any of the characters from 1958, made them the killer and it would have made as much sense as who actually did it. There's no rhyme, reason or logic to why that character did it instead of someone else and there's no justification, explanation or rationale for why that character being the killer is significant or meaningful. When the moment of revelation comes, the folks who made Stolen treat it like a mindblowing event. All it truly merits, though, is a shrug of the shoulders and a "So what?"
Despite those two things, I'd still recommend people watch this film, which should say all that needs to be said about how well done everything else is in Stolen. I can't help but think, though, about how much better that different movie would have been.
I had never heard of this movie but saw it on Netflix and it looked
interesting so I gave it a try. Wow, I was hooked, such powerful acting
by Josh Lucas, Jon Hamm and James Van Der Beek. I haven't read all the
reviews here so I don't know if anyone else has mentioned it but the
makeup department definitely deserves praise for the job they did with
the age makeup.
The story really caught my attention, I loved how it was intertwined between the past and the present and I really enjoyed the final confrontation.
I really would recommend this movie, you won't be disappointed.
When you watch a lot of independent and direct-to-video films, you see a lot of garbage, but occasionally you find a gem that makes it all worthwhile, Stolen, is one of those gems. This story was so intriguing and well written that I was absolutely blown away. The film is about a detective whose son went missing, without a trace, eight years ago. The trail is cold and he's beginning to accept that he will never find him, when a local construction crew finds a boy in a box. The body has been there for at least fifty years, but the case awakens something in the detective who has to learn the truth. From there, quite ingeniously, the film is divided into three different stories, the story of the boy in the box, the detectives investigation, and the story of his own child. It was seriously like watching three different movies at once, and they were all great! The cast was pretty phenomenal too, as this was a very hard thing to pull off, but they did it seemingly with ease. Josh Lucas just blew my mind, giving an unrivaled performance as the father of the other missing boy. I've seen him in things before, but nothing was as memorable as this. Stolen is a film that consists of three stories in once, that will pull on your emotions and have you on the edge of your seat. It's one of the best films I've seen all year and I can't recommend it enough!
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