All scenery and no substance – The Stolen (Film Review)

On paper The Stolen looks like it has all the potential in the world. Led by Alice Eve (Entourage, Star Trek Into Darkness and Black Mirror to name a few) it’s an intriguing period tale of kidnap and despair which makes for a challenging watch. Alongside Eve we get recognisable names such as Jack Davenport (Coupling, Pirates Of The Caribbean), Richard O’Brien (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Graham McTavish (The Hobbit trilogy). It’s not the most stellar cast you’ll ever find but it’s a decent group of people who usually deliver on screen. However it fails to deliver on that potential and offers a middling and mostly forgettable thriller that suffers from an identity crisis.

This New Zealand based story focuses on a grieving mother in the 1860s that has lost her baby son, kidnapped from home and sending her life crashing down around her. As a wealthy lady Charlotte Lockton (Eve) is used to the finer things in life and this trauma makes her re-evaluate the significance of everything in her world that she thought she knew and loved. It’s an interesting idea with a core set in true emotion as any parent could relate to what Charlotte is going through. Eve plays her with an admirable determination, showing someone willing to adapt and change for the love of their child.

The background of New Zealand serves to make The Stolen visually enchanting and certainly give it a different feel to many movies out there. The wide and beautiful environment takes on a whole new meaning knowing a child is out there missing his family. What is awe inspiring to many eyes suddenly becomes harsh and unforgiving to Charlotte, with her desperation only magnified by the vast nature of the location. Suddenly everything seems so massive and unreachable and as if a solution is always so far away. It’s a difficult balance to maintain between the intimate and personal nature of the story itself with the epic location but The Stolen does an admirable job.

Director Niall Johnson has a grasp on the visuals and on the characters but when it comes to bringing them all together it’s never quite as good as it should be. It’s intriguing following Charlotte as she takes her son’s safety into her own hands, disappointed at the response from the police, and Alice Eve is a decent choice for the headstrong and determined mother. But interactions with other characters such as Joshua (Davenport) and Russell (O’Brien) never quite click the way you expect and The Stolen ends up being a disappointing mishmash of ideas. It’s almost as if Johnson and co-writer Emily Corcoran had numerous ideas and never quite figured out how to join them together.

The Stolen won’t be winning any prizes and is destined to become one of those movies that you just wish could have been better. Mostly because with a decent idea and a solid cast it should have offered so much more. Instead you’ll spend an hour and a half of your time exploring the landscape searching for something with some depth and never quite finding it. By the end you’ll be more relieved that you survived than overly concerned for the child.

Dir: Niall Johnson

Starring: Alice Eve, Graham McTavish, Jack Davenport, Richard O’Brien

Music: Paul Lawler

Country: UK/New Zealand

Year: 2017

Run time: 98 mins

The Stolen is out now in selected cinemas.