返回

HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT

           

From the April 21, 1980, Deseret News

HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT — James Caan, Jill Eikenberry; rated PG (profanity).

When an actor turns to directing, he'd better have a good script for his first property.

"Hide in Plain Sight" is such a property and James Caan's directing debut is an impressive one.

The story, based on Leslie Waller's true account, tells of a blue-collar worker who suddenly finds his children have been kidnapped – by the U.S. government.

Tom Hacklin (Caan) is divorced, but he's still a very loving, caring father to his two small children. His ex-wife marries a member of the Mafia and when her new husband testifies against the mob, the U.S. Justice Department makes him the first recipient of its new Witness Relocation Program.

There's no problem with the former mobster getting a new identity, home and job, but his new wife and Hacklin's children go along with him – and the Justice Department won't tell Hacklin where they've gone.

The movie chronicles the events leading up to the relocation a little too lengthily; the real tension begins with Hacklin's efforts to find his kids.

Caan has chosen a low-key approach that is occasionally disarming, but it adds to the realism of frustration suffered by a man butting his head against the system.

Caan himself is excellent as the lead player. It's no wonder Caan wanted to direct, as well, to see his best role in years handled with care.

It's essentially a one-man show. The supporting cast is good and Caan is not selfish with his camera, but he knows that his character is the anchor for the story. When he's not on the screen, we're anxious to see what his next move will be.

If the first half of "Hide in Plain Sight" takes too long setting up the conflict, the second half too quickly puts us through the paces to its conclusion. It was a wise move to keep this film close to an hour-and-a-half, but the latter part of the film could use some more feeling for time.

The only real markers are a dog that grows from a puppy and then Hacklin's new wife going through a pregnancy. It's all from Hacklin's point of view, of course, but we wonder how much changing his children will have gone through from the experience – and we're never told.

Hacklin's anxiety is deeply felt by the audience, however, and when he finally comes together with his children once more, we feel the protective urge to shelter these kids so no one can take them from him again. (Yes, fathers have protective urges too – or didn't you see "Kramer vs. Kramer?")

Caan has added a lot of nice touches to his unschooled hardhat character – including welcome amounts of tension-releasing humor. And the reunion is excellently presented.

Friends tell me this story has been altered tremendously from the book but I had the advantage of not having read it. As a story, it is great drama. That it is a true story makes it all the more frightening – and dramatic.

"Hide in Plain Sight" is rated PG for considerable profanity (though not inappropriate) and some mild violence.