Man Without A Face, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -1 1/2

Charles Norstadt (Nick Stahl) is a troubled young teenager in Cranesport, Maine, in 1968. He dreams of attending prep school, then going on to the Naval Academy and becoming a fighter pilot, just like his late father. Also, he can't stand living with his dysfunctional family - his mother, his older sister, and a half sister. The problem is, he can't pass the school's entrance examination. During the summer Charles becomes friends with Justin McLeod (Mel Gibson), a disfigured recluse who was once a teacher at a boarding school. Justin is referred to as "the Freak." Charles, somewhat of an outcast himself, asks McLeod to tutor him. Rumors about McLeod swirling about in the small town prevent Charles from telling his mother about his new friend. When Charles' older sister tells him the truth about his abusive, alcoholic father, Charles is crushed, and seeks solace in McLeod. Unfortunately, Justin is falsely accused of sexually abusing Charles because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding his accident. Despite Charles' protestations that nothing has happened, the local judge prevents McLeod from seeing Charles. THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE is an engaging, well-crafted drama, with commendable themes of unconditional love and forgiveness.

McLeod teaches Charles many valuable lessons about life: the rewards of hard work, perseverance, and, obviously, "you can't tell a book by its cover," along with Latin and history. Regrettably, MAN WITHOUT A FACE fails the test of objectionable material. Language includes many obscenities and some other vulgarities, many of them uttered by kids. There is one scene of implied sex, with Charles' sister and boyfriend beneath blankets on a bed. Nudity is limited to the upper portion of two female mannequins in Justin's attic - he is an artist as well as a teacher and uses them for models. Children smoke cigarettes, and adults drink socially, some to the point of inebriation. The subject of sexual child abuse is handled tastefully. Although it's a film about a child, it is not a children's movie. Adults will find it engrossing and heartwarming. However, the film's language prevents our wholehearted recommendation.

Preview Reviewer: Pete Zimowski
Warner Brothers, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (10) times - Mild 4; Moderate 6

Obscene Language: Many (13) times (f-word 1; s-word 6; other 6)

Profanity: Few (4) times - Regular 1 (GD); Exclamatory 3

Violence: None

Sex: Upper halves of two female mannequins

Nudity: Once implied (girl and boyfriend, no nudity)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Youngsters shown smoking, depicted neutrally; adults drink socially, consequences of hangover shown.

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience:

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.