26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
First time's a charm.,
This review is from: The Man Without A Face [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Mel Gibson's first time directing is notably successful. The Man Without A Face is warm movie with themes touching prejudice, the relationship between teacher and student, and faces of deception. Chuck Norstadt is a young boy whose mother's capricious relationships have sent her skimming through multiple marriages and developing a considerable deal of tension at home. The dysfunctional family leaves Chuck desperately looking for companionship. He finds an unlikely friend, the town's "freak," Justin McLeod (Gibson), who had half his face horribly scarred in a car accident. McLeod lives in a big house on the coast as a lonely hermit whose past is shrouded in ugly rumors and fear.
McLeod becomes Chuck's tutor and his friend, although Chuck will do some teaching of his own. They both realize they have a lot to learn about each other, and their friendship develops into something stirring and honest. Things get complicated when vile rumors and intolerance threaten to separate them, though.
The script is smart, and Gibson's direction guides this film with a discerning knack for emotional lucidity and realism. Nick Stahl (as Chuck) is one of the few young actors who can do emotional expression that doesn't seem forced and stupid. This is critical, because bad casting for Chuck would seriously have ruined this movie. Gibson, of course, is great here, but what would you expect? He's a tremendously versatile actor. I do think the movie probably should have been about 10 minutes longer to flesh out the ending a bit. That's not a huge complaint...the last scene in the movie makes up for any disappointment because it is very moving and evocative in its simplicity. Ahh...truly an excellent movie.