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Stolen Lives
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Reviews & Ratings for
Stolen More at IMDbPro »Stolen Lives (original title)

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63 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Very good mystery movie

10/10
Author: dickklip from United States
11 April 2010

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!

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Duplicity: Parallel Lives, Parallel Loses

7/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
28 June 2010

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.

Grady Harp

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Underrated crime drama which is ultimately cathartic

7/10
Author: perkypops from United Kingdom
14 May 2012

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.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A hidden gem of a film

9/10
Author: yeltzmanmatt from Birmingham, England
12 June 2012

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.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Fifty years on...

4/10
Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
26 May 2012

This thriller, starring "Mad Men's" John Hamm, while watchable, ultimately fails through implausible plotting and the contrived use of coincidence.

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.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Intense character study with nice touches of surrealism

Author: rooprect from New York City
6 December 2011

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.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Strong reaction

10/10
Author: Peggy Kuntzelman (pegward61@yahoo.com) from San Antonio, Tx
8 August 2013

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.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This movie will not steal your time

7/10
Author: adi_2002 from Sfantu Gheorghe, Covasna, Romania
26 January 2014

Tom just lost his son after a moment of inattention while they were in a restaurant. At a construction site near by it's found a dead body of a child and Tom thinks that it is his son. Being a detective he deeps more in this case and it leads him to another child abduction and murder that happened fifty years ago.

A beautiful and at the same time a sad story told from two points of view, one from the present and the other from the '50. The crossing makes the movie watchable and the fact that they are connected makes the movie even more intriguing. It's almost impossible not to share a tear after and the original story could make us to forget about the little flaws. An unique film that deserves your time.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Extremely underrated gem!

10/10
Author: dirtyrichrara from Jacksonville, FL
20 November 2012

Do yourself a favor...watch this movie! Josh Lucas, John Hamm, and James Van Byke all give wonderfully superb performances in this dual plot story. The story of 2 fathers in different eras with the same issue, searching for his missing son is woven to perfection. An extremely pressing and reoccurring theme set the base for a beautifully sad story that occurs so often in so many places. The scripting was wonderful and the settings are so natural and not overpowering as many Hollywood films are. I'd kept this on my netflix queue for so long, I started to watch it three times before I fully committed. I was sorry I'd postponed it so long. Such a beautiful film with stellar performances. Watch watch!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Ultimate Movie Review! - http://tss5078.blogspot.com

8/10
Author: Tss5078 from United States
15 July 2012

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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