The Deep End of the Ocean movie poster
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The Deep End of the Ocean movie poster

The Deep End of the Ocean - Movie Synopsis & Plot

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Are we at the deep end, Mom?

This is the ocean, Ben. There is no deep end of the ocean.

It looks too deep.

Don't be afraid. Mama would never let the ocean snatch you away.

When Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel "The Deep End of the Ocean" hit bookstores in June 1996, it was hailed as a modern masterpiece-the kind of story that comes along once in a generation. Now, from three-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Pfeiffer and critically acclaimed director Ulu Grosbard comes one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the season. Based on Mitchard's story of the heartbreak of losing a child and the power of family to survive against unfathomable odds, Mandalay Entertainment proudly presents The Deep End of the Ocean.

Beth Cappadora (Pfeiffer) is like most mothers-loving, devoted, and occasionally overwhelmed by the demands of caring for her family and maintaining a successful career as a photographer. With her three small children in tow, she arrives at a hotel for her 15th high school reunion weekend. In the middle of the crowded lobby, she looks away for a moment-and in that moment her three-year-old son Ben disappears. A frantic search turns up nothing; he has vanished in the blink of an eye, seemingly without a trace.

As hours turn into days, days into months, Ben's disappearance has a devastating effect on Beth's ability to cope, creating tensions between her and her husband Pat (Golden Globe nominee Treat Williams) as well as her older son, Vincent (Cory Buck). Time goes by, and with Pat's help, Beth and the children go back to leading a seemingly normal life.

Then one day, some nine years later, a boy knocks on the Cappadoras' door, a boy who is the same age that their missing son would be now. Something strikes Beth about the color of his hair, the shape of his eyes, the curve of his cheek_ Her mind dares to entertain the impossible thought-could it be him?

With the help of a tenacious police detective who over the years has become a close friend (Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg), Beth, Pat, their daughter Kerry and their troubled teenage son Vincent (Emmy award winner Jonathan Jackson) are reunited with Ben (Ryan Merriman), who now goes by the name of Sam and has been raised by his loving, adoptive father George (John Kapelos).

The joy that Beth and Pat experience at the miraculous reappearance of their son soon turns to concern as they realize that, since he has no memory of them or his brother or sister, they are all little more than strangers.

Despite Pat's resistance, it becomes increasingly clear to Beth that, however strong their love of and need for Sam, they must face the reality of his growing unhappiness at being deprived of the home he has known most of his life. What might be best for them may not be best for Sam.

In the end, Beth' selflessness, conviction and courage to act opens the way for Sam to bring a measure of hope to the family. Ultimately, these two misfits brought together by a twist of fate transform each other. Gloria gives her charge a second crack at childhood. And he gives her a second chance at life, revealing more about love than all the tough men she's ever known.

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