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Critic's Pick

'The Man Without a Face'

August 07, 1994|Kevin Thomas

This film marked Mel Gibson's ambitious and largely successful directorial debut. It intelligently relates the relationship that develops, against considerable odds, between a 12-year-old boy (Nick Stahl, a wonderful actor) in need of a father as much as some tutoring, and a former prep school teacher (Gibson). The teacher has been a recluse for many years because the right side of his face was badly scarred by fire. As an actor and as a director, Gibson shines in the credible way in which he develops a pupil-and-teacher relationship and, in turn, a loving father-and-son relationship. Adapted by Malcolm MacRury from Isabelle Holland's novel, this 1993 film also observes how difficult it can be nowadays for a man and a boy who are unrelated to have a perfectly innocent, mutually nurturing friendship (HBO Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.).

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