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Stolen (2009)

Written by Glenn Taranto Directed by Anders Anderson

The story of Stolen tells of a 50 year time difference in which two men are connected by the loss of their own son. Intertwining through the fabrics as one story picks up where the other is forced to leave off. The first tale occurs in 1958 with Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas) as the sole provider of his three boys; Luke (Christian Bender), John (Jimmy Bennett) and Mark (Graham Phillips). After the loss of his wife to suicide, he’s forced to find work, left with no choice but to beg his brother in law to help care for his children. Though he only agrees to take in Luke and Mark as John had a mental impairment he felt incapable of assisting nor in the mood to handle. Setting off, the two eventually find their way as Matthew finds work for a construction manager that decides to give him a chance. Having no where to leave his child, John’s forced to tag along and often gets his father in trouble for hanging around the site. Making a close friend who went by the name Diploma (James Van Der Beek), the two would often find themselves at the bar after a long day, ready to unwind.

One particular night proving too much fun as Matthew gives into temptation and in an desperate attempt to get some, has John fall asleep in the car, promising not to leave. Though decides the romp wasn’t even worth the trouble and returns to find his son gone with no trace of what happened. Something Detective Tom Adkins (Jon Hamm) could relate to in the sense of having left his child alone half a century later, simply to go to the bathroom while eating at a diner together. Once departing, finds that his son had run off and spends the next decade searching for any kind of answer. While having confronted the killer behind bars that he was sure to be behind the disappearance, Tom finds himself in a rush to prove what his instincts knew and what time wouldn’t let the killer forget.

Pretty dramatic stuff, huh? This does claim to be based on true events and while not exact, correlates to a famous unsolved case, “America’s Unknown Child” or The Boy in the Box as they refer to it in the film. It seems the writer simply worked his way back as a means to show one way in which the entire scenario could have played out. But a pretty standard mystery thriller overall. One thing I love about IFC films is that while the stories are always something of a vast interest and ability to engage the audience, their choice of Actors are never compromised. Stating the Hamm was the best thing in the film would be my complete bias, however he does play a great second to Beek’s presence on screen. Because anyone who has seen a single episode of Mad Men knows the true talent that he possesses. His ability to play such in depth and troubled roles are paired with his innate instincts in making each character given come to life. There hasn’t been one film of Hamm’s that I haven’t found him to be completely enjoyable in, this included.

Having been one of the many that watched “Dawson” go through puberty in my youth, truth is I’ve only ever enjoyed James in one other film. However I couldn’t help but take notice as he had a subtle and yet very powerful performance, honing in on the eerie vibe. Despite that we don’t see him as frequent and the character played was certainly what you might not expect. There was also this great movie moment between his and Hamm’s character in which he taunts Tom, remembering out loud how he had killed his son. Delivery was important for such a small and exact role; something outright achieved. Though Josh Lucas is no stranger to being the kind hearted hillbilly with a heart of gold, it was that very aspect that seemed to hinder his performance given. Though he lacked a bit of deliverance with the way certain sentences were stated, it was almost as though he was making fun of his own accent. Nothing to take away from the performance but something I couldn’t get away from. I just know he’s capable of better.

Seen even less however are the woman of the film. Rhona Mitra played Barbara, Tom’s wife, stuck into an emotionless state because of a simple mistake that her husband made. After 8 years of no word, she needed closure and to announce her son dead, despite her husband refusing to let go. I’ve always felt as though Mitra was a best kept secret in the biz. Because she otherwise flows in and out of what would seem like random roles, but is so capable of capturing the essence no matter how small the part. A small cameo by Jessica Chastain who played the eventually second wife to Matthew. Playing a waitress that tends to him while in a time of need, she finds the closure Matthew was unable to live to see. Mixed in with all this talent were beautiful transition shots that knitted both past and present with a heart wrenching tale of the danger that can come with one missed second.