The Deep End of the Ocean is a 1999 American drama movie directed by Ulu Grosbard and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Treat Williams, Jonathan Jackson, John Kapelos, and Whoopi Goldberg. It is based on Jacquelyn Mitchard’s 1996 novel of the same name, a bestseller that was the first ever novel selected by Oprah Winfrey for discussion on Oprah’s Book Club in 1996.
The movie tells the story of a family’s reaction when Ben, the youngest son, is kidnapped and found nine years later, living in the same town his family has just moved to. The movie was released in theaters on March 12, 1999, by Columbia Pictures and was a box office failure, grossing $28 million worldwide.
The Deep End of the Ocean tries to capture this sadness by following the story of a woman named Beth. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, it follows a family’s journey to hell and back when a young member goes missing.
While many such films focus on the crime and its investigation, this one focuses on the emotional depth of the situation. It goes a step further in its probe of the complexities of human emotion by shedding light on the crime and delving into its aftermath. It uses different points of view to give the audience a complete overview of the situation and ultimately leaves them with something to think about. Now, know about The Deep End of the Ocean movie.
The Deep End of the Ocean: Synopsis
During a high school reunion in a crowded hotel lobby, Beth Cappadory’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) three-year-old son Ben disappears. The police are called to the scene, a frantic search begins, but it is unsuccessful and Beth has a nervous breakdown. Unable to cope with her devastation, she inadvertently neglects her other children, Vincent and Kerry.
After nine years, the Cappadora family has seemingly come to terms with the fact that Ben is gone for good when a familiar-looking boy shows up at their new home and offers to mow their lawn. He introduces himself as Sam, but Beth becomes convinced that he is actually Ben and begins an investigation.
Beth discovers that Ben has been kidnapped at the reunion by Cecil Lockhart, a mentally unstable woman who was an old classmate of Beth’s. She raised Ben as her own child until she later took her own life.
An attempt to reintegrate Sam/Ben back into the Cappadory family produces painful results for everyone, so Beth and her husband Pat (Treat Williams) finally decide to return him to his adoptive father.
Vincent leaves the house one night and Beth later wakes up to a 4 am phone call to tell them he is in jail. Beth and Pat discuss his erratic behavior with Candy Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg), a detective on Ben’s case turned family friend, and Candy assures Beth that Vincent loves her. They eventually reconcile their relationship, but during Vincent’s time in prison, Beth and Pat develop relationship problems after constantly arguing and start sleeping in separate beds.
A few days later, Sam shows up at Cappadora’s house and reveals that he remembered something from before the kidnapping; he was playing hide and seek with vincent and got stuck in the trunk but vincent found him so he felt safe.
Pat later releases Vincent from prison and one night finds him outside playing basketball with Sam. Guilty for not following Ben to the reunion, Vincent lets go of his hand and tells him to get lost, Vincent is forgiven by Sam/Ben who says he has decided to go back to living with his blood family. But first, he plays basketball with his brother – a loser to carry Sam’s remarkably heavy suitcase into the house. Beth and Pat, reconciled, watch from the living room window. “The Deep End of the Ocean.”
The Deep End of the Ocean Ending, Explained: What Happened At The End?
The pain of losing Ben was unimaginable to Beth, but his return, even nine years after he was lost, gave her some comfort. She and Pat finally had a whole family again. As they begin to settle into their old lives, Beth realizes that Ben isn’t Ben anymore.
The boy she brought home was Sam, who lived in a different family and had a different upbringing than the Cappadora family. He was lost at such a young age that he didn’t remember the family he had. All he knew was that he was forcibly taken from home and the world claimed that his mother, whom he loved, was a kidnapper. He was torn from his life and didn’t understand why.
Despite her happiness to have her son back, Beth can see that Sam is not happy. Every night he would sneak out of his bedroom to walk two blocks away to George’s house. They fear that if they stop him, he will grow to hate them and his grief could lead to something worse than his disappearance. So, even though it breaks her heart, she decides to send Sam back to George. It wouldn’t be worth destroying his life in exchange for satisfying her and Pata’s own version of how their family should be. The only consolation from this situation would be that her son is alive and well and above all happy.
When Sam drops off at George’s, it feels like the end of everything. Things start to fall apart between her and Pat, and Vincent also spins. Just when everything seems to be falling apart, Sam shows up outside their house in the middle of the night. First, he invites Vincent to play basketball. But then he reveals that he came back to live with them. He says he and George talked about it last week and it would be best if he stayed with the Cappadoras. When Vincent asks him if he’s back for good, he says he doesn’t know.
To understand the ending of the “The Deep End of the Ocean” movie, we have to put ourselves in Sam’s shoes. He is torn between two families, he does not know which is his past and which should be his present. Although he was kidnapped, he grew up in a loving home. Even though he was told that it wasn’t his original family he lived with, it wasn’t until he was forced to move in with the Cappadoras that he felt like a captive. If he could, he would go back to George and his old life, but it’s not that simple.
Sam was at a crossroads with his decision and after talking to George he found a way to move forward. No wonder George was always a kind and considerate person. Even though he had every opportunity to run away from Sam and never come back, he didn’t. Rather, he stopped the boy’s habit of sneaking out of the house every night.
It wouldn’t be an easy decision for George, but he knew it would be best for everyone. He knew the pain the Cappados had gone through, and after all these years of suffering, it wouldn’t be fair of them to lose their son just as they got him back. So he probably advised Sam to return to his original family.
Although he is ready to give it a shot, Sam knows that settling down with the Cappadora family would not be a piece of cake. Even though they wanted him back, he was still a stranger to them and vice versa. He grew up in a different cultural environment and was associated with different relatives. Leaving it all would be impossible.
Nine years is a long time and maybe it would be easier to forget it all if it was a bad experience. Maybe if George had been a bad father and Cecil hadn’t treated him like her own son, it would have been easier for him to slide into the love the Cappadoras were offering him. But it wasn’t like that and everyone had to accept it.
So, when Sam tells Vincent that he doesn’t know if his stay is permanent, he’s being honest about the situation. Maybe they will all find a way to come to terms with his history and allow his next family to come into the fold. Maybe the Cappados will find it in themselves to share him, and balance his past with his future.
It wouldn’t be without a fight and it would take everyone doing their part. If they could do that, Sam’s life would be easier. If not, they will have to do what is best for everyone. But for now, Sam is staying here, and taking things one day at a time would be the best way to handle his situation. “The Deep End of the Ocean.”
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