Reviewed by: Bailey Olfert
Starring: Mel Gibson, Margaret Whitton, Fay Masterson, Gaby Hoffmann, Geoffrey Lewis, Richard Masur, and introducing Nick Stahl / Director: Mel Gibson [his directorial debut] / Released by: Warner Brothers
No one seemed to believe that Chuck would ever amount to anything. Despite such low expectations, Chuck strives to be accepted at a military school, where he hopes that his dreams for his future will solidify.
Although Chuck’s mom is currently without a husband, that situation seems temporary, as marriage is her “hobby,” and her three children are all of different fathers.
Chuck’s 10-year-old sister sums up the viewpoint shared by she and Chuck early in the story: “What a stupid world.”
Most of this tale takes place during Chuck’s summer vacation in Maine in 1968, when his goal is to study constantly so that he will pass his second chance at the military school’s entrance examination at the end of August. Due to his family’s low opinion of his aspirations, Chuck seeks help from Cranesport’s outsider after he discovers that Justin McLeod has been a teacher. Chuck determinedly pursues a relationship with the isolated man, even after many cold rebuffs.
Away from the lessons with his solitary tutor, Chuck inwardly struggles with the town’s perception of McLeod, and their rumor-spreading (for instance, that he writes pornography). He feels guilty when he joins his friends in telling stories about the stranger.
Chuck is not the only beneficiary from the tutoring bond. McLeod is forced out of his isolation and into a relationship that helps him to find more peace about a tragedy in his past.
The best messages from this movie are that judging people without true knowledge of them robs us all, and that being a help or encouragement to someone can help to build them up and maybe even provide an opportunity to share in their dream.
Although this film is primarily about a child, it is not for children. If you watch it with older teenagers, be sure to discuss the good and bad portrayed in the movie with them. Be clear about what you and God approve of, and what you disapprove of, and why.
There are about a dozen uses of improper language, including two or three that use God’s Name in vain. While these do not come from characters who we are encouraged to emulate, they still desensitize us to crude language. During an exploration of McLeod’s house, Chuck touches a mannequin’s breast. Chuck walks in on his teenage sister and her boyfriend, under the sheets. The movie also displays a poor relationship between Chuck and his mom. He feels that he has to deceive her about being tutored by McLeod, and she seems too wrapped up in herself to reach out to her own son.
“The Man Without A Face” is a touching movie that should certainly speak to your heart against judging others.