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The Parts You Lose

The Parts You Lose, 2019

An unnamed, injured man (Aaron Paul) is on the run from the police and ends up hiding in the barn belonging to the family of a little boy named Wesley (Danny Murphy). Wesley is deaf, and suffers abuse at the hands of his classmates and his alcoholic father, Ronnie (Scoot McNairy). Wesley forms a bond with the stranger, but their tentative friendship is clearly on borrowed time as the police close in.

Yeah, itís not good.

I just wrote a review of another movie that was totally unengaging, and I feel as if I used up all of my energy stores for describing in tepid terms a film that isnít bad, per se, but also has no real redeeming qualities.

There are plenty of elements of this film that can make for a perfectly passable thriller. Youíve got your mysterious criminal who also seems to have a heart of gold. Youíve got a bullied character whose relationship with a rough-and-tumble dude helps them to gain some edge and learn to stand up for themselves. Youíve got a police investigation/pursuit. The ingredients are all fine. In theory.

The problem here is that everything is handled in the most superficial way. It almost feels more like an outline of a movie than an actual movie. We learn very little about our characters, and the character we learn the most about, Wesley, follows an arc that is so predictable that itís hard to engage with him.

The actors in this film are fine, but the material is so thin. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, playing Wesleyís mother, is mostly reduced to sighing and pretending she doesnít notice her husband has been beating their child. Paulís scenes with his young co-star are pretty much these one-note sequences of tough love.

There was one scene that stood out to me in a positive way. After the stranger coaches Wesley in a very violent way to handle his bullies---a bag of coins to the face, that could really hurt someone--Wesley goes to school and decides to stand up to one of them. Suspense builds as the two boys look at each other . . . and then the other kid backs off. Just for a moment, I thought that the film might be interested in investigating the idea of proportional response. It didnít, but the short scene itself is alright.

On the flip side, I found myself totally confused about a subplot where the police are looking for the stranger. One of them gives this big intimidating speech to Wesley about how dangerous the man is, and how itís wrong to befriend a wild animal because it will hurt you, blah, blah, blah. So why is it, if the police are so convinced that Wesley is hiding this wanted criminal, they donít think to look inside THE HUGE BARN looming behind them?!

This is one of those movies that is just good enough that its paltry momentum can carry you along from beginning to end. But itís hard to recommend as anything other than something you put on in the background while you vacuum.