To all 395 followers, thank you for helping make 18 Cinema Lane the success it is today! With a new blog follower milestone comes a new blog follower dedication review! I recently read Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O’Dell. After reading that book, I realized how rarely I review films revolving around Native American stories. The last one I reviewed was Luna: Spirit of the Whale, with that review published two years ago. To make up for that, I decided to select Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Lost Child to write about and discuss! It also has been several months since I reviewed a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, with my review of Saint Maybe published last September. Within Hallmark’s library of films, those containing Native American stories are far and few between. These handful of movies have ranged in quality, with Dear Prudence being the best one, in my opinion. So, where does The Lost Child rank? The only way to find out is to keep reading!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Mercedes Ruehl and Jamey Sheridan are no strangers to the world of Hallmark entertainment, as both actors have appeared in at least one Hallmark film besides The Lost Child. Back in 2013, Mercedes starred in Banner 4th of July, a film I haven’t seen. A movie I have seen is 2008’s Dear Prudence, which starred Jamey Sheridan. I don’t believe Mercedes and Jamey appeared in a movie together prior to The Lost Child. Despite this, they had really nice on-screen chemistry! Their characters, Rebecca and Jack, seemed like kindred spirits. The acting abilities of Jamey and Mercedes are part of the reason why this is the case! When Rebecca first meets Jack at a bar, the audience can tell how in sync these two characters are. Jack and Rebecca appear to enjoy each other’s company, with the body language and facial expressions of each actor showing how their characters feel. Mercedes and Jamey not only had good chemistry with each other, they had good chemistry with the other cast members as well! Even though they weren’t on screen together, the scene where Grace, portrayed by Irene Bedard, calls Rebecca is one of the strongest scenes in The Lost Child. Throughout their phone conversation, genuine emotions were shared between both women. The strength of Mercedes’ and Irene’s acting abilities elevated the scene itself, as their conversation revolves around a very emotional subject. A combination of facial expressions, tone of voice, and use of emotionality worked in the favor of each actress, as the scene felt believable!
The scenery: The Lost Child was filmed in Superior, Arizona, according to IMDB. This is because the majority of the story takes place on a Navajo reservation. At several moments in the movie, the film’s creative team took advantage of The Grand Canyon State’s beauty by incorporating the natural landscape within establishing shots or weaving them into the story. A woman named Aunt Mary gives Rebecca a tour of the reservation. During this tour, Aunt Mary takes Rebecca to the spot where Rebecca’s biological parents got married. It’s easy to see why they chose to get married in that spot, as a piece of canyon rock dominates the space. Set against a clear, blue sky, this rock contrasts beautifully with the sky’s hue, as well as the green of nearby cactus. Before Rebecca meets Aunt Mary, she watches the sun rise. The sky gives off hues of orange and yellow, which help the audience focus on this part of natural majesty. Scenes like the two I mentioned are examples of the creative team taking initiative to show how beautiful Arizona can be!
An introduction to Native American culture: As I previously stated, the majority of The Lost Child takes place on a Navajo reservation. Because of this, Rebecca and her family spend time interacting with other members of the Navajo community. Through these interactions, Rebecca’s family, as well as the audience, learn about some aspects of the Navajo culture. When she’s trying to learn how to weave, Aunt Mary tells Rebecca to make a break in her blanket design, in order to prevent losing her spirit in her work. This simple piece of advice teaches Rebecca and the viewers how blankets created by Navajo members carry a special meaning with each design. One evening, Rebecca’s biological family gather around a fire and dance around that fire together. When Rebecca arrives, she asks what her family is celebrating. Her cousin shares how there doesn’t need to be a celebration to have a good time. The Lost Child is not the “end all, be all” when it comes to Navajo culture. However, if one is interested in learning more, this movie provides a good starting point!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A not so compelling conflict: In The Lost Child, Rebecca not only learns she is a Navajo woman, her biological family having been looking for her as well. However, this conflict is resolved within the first thirty minutes of the movie. To make up for the short resolution, the rest of the story focuses on Rebecca and her family acclimating to reservation life. Without spoiling the movie, I can see why Rebecca would make the choices she did. But I didn’t find this overarching conflict to be as compelling as Rebecca’s search for her family. Part of this has to do with how I’m not a fan of “slice of life” stories. The Lost Child is based on a book I haven’t read. Therefore, I’m not sure which parts are straight from the source material and which are creative liberties.
A missing twin brother: When Rebecca is around the age of thirteen, she accidently finds out she has a twin brother. Years later, she posts notices on the internet, in an attempt to find him. These posts are what lead Rebecca to Grace, one of her sisters. But when Rebecca meets her biological family, she abandons the search for her brother. Throughout the story, this twin is brought up in passing. His whereabouts or his name are never mentioned. Like I previously stated, this movie is based on a pre-existing book. Despite that fact, I was frustrated by this huge loose end.
Too many story ideas: I know there is only so much story you can tell in two hours, the run-time for The Lost Child. Therefore, you need enough story material to not only satisfy that run-time, but also hold the audience’s attention. In the case of this movie, there are too many ideas found within the story. Some of these ideas could have warranted its own film. One of them revolves around Rebecca’s daughter, Caroline, being bullied at her new school. Because of how many story ideas were in this film, some of those ideas get lost in the shuffle. A good example is Rebecca’s youngest daughter being diagnosed with a food sensitivity. Looking back on The Lost Child, it felt like the creative team tried to tackle so much in a short amount of time.
My overall impression:
The Lost Child is the forty-seventh Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I’ve seen in my life. At this point, I know what I like and expect to see in a film of this nature. Personally, I thought the 2000 production was just fine. But it didn’t leave a strong impression on me like other Hall of Fame titles have. I wish the story had focused more on Rebecca’s search for her family, as I found that more interesting than her reservation life. However, I recognize that the film is based on pre-existing material. As I said in the introduction, Hallmark movies revolving around Native American stories are far and few between. This can also be said for the coverage of these films on 18 Cinema Lane. When I do chance upon a movie containing Native American stories, I approach them in the hope they are good. For The Lost Child, it was about as enjoyable as Luna: Spirit of the Whale was, a movie I reviewed back in 2020. A good thing I can say about the Hallmark Hall of Fame project is how it does introduce the audience to the Navajo culture. Having beautiful scenery and containing strong acting performances also help its case. I happen to have other Hall of Fame titles on my DVR. The question is, which one will I review next?
Overall score: 7 out of 10
Do you watch Hallmark Hall of Fame movies? Are there any you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!