Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 28
  2. Negative: 5 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams give such magnetic performances that they elevate the film way above its middlebrow sensibility and proclivity for neat resolutions.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Two films in one: an intriguing child-disappearance mystery and an uncommonly affecting domestic drama realized by four terrific central performances.
  3. 70
    So finely crafted, so alive with wonderful acting and an extraordinary commitment to realism that most audiences will be happy to surrender themselves to its improbable ride.
  4. The emotional resolutions aren't pat, exactly. But they're not messy either, and for material this inherently volatile, that seems like a cheat.
  5. Reviewed by: Michael Sauter
    If the film was less than satisfying as a big-screen event, it's still worth renting for Pfeiffer, who valiantly portrays the devastating complexities of grief and guilt.
  6. About two faces of healing.
  7. 63
    Paced more like an action movie than a drama, and, when a pause finally occurs at the end credits, we realize that it hasn't been an altogether satisfying ride.
  8. Ends up insisting on pat and overly tidy resolutions that are at variance with the emotional chaos it's nominally attempting to convey. [12 March 1999, Calendar, p.F-1]
  9. Grosbard mercifully avoids melodrama -- the only real false notes are musical ones, from a score by Elmer Bernstein that turns familiar and trite when the film does not.
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Pfeiffer restores honor to the family drama.
  11. 60
    Pfeiffer digs into the role and won't let go. The rest of the movie is conventionally earnest.
  12. 50
    The film ultimately gives in to a case of TV-movie blahs.
  13. Should have worked on our emotions like a scalpel, made us cry and bleed. But, though it's an affecting, polished film, it's not satisfying. [12 March 1999, Friday, p.A]
  14. Fans of Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel may find enough echoes of the book to justify the price of admission. But others can see this sort of thinly crafted melodrama in TV movies every week. For free.
  15. It's a classy but downbeat spin on the most familiar of TV-movie formulas.
  16. This is the kind of movie that mistakes heartbreak for being housebroken.
  17. The verdict is easy: Pfeiffer terrific, movie not.
  18. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    If the movie is remembered for anything, it will be for the feature-film debut of fiercely talented Jonathan Jackson: His performance truly transcends its dour setting.
  19. Reviewed by: Tom Meek
    Heavy-handed melodrama that rises above its manipulative trappings on the solid performances of the cast.
  20. 50
    Never fully taps your empathy or your fears; it plays like a movie that's always about someone else.
  21. Though director Ulu Grosbard is as good as he usually is with most of the actors, the story problems tend to stump him too.
  22. 40
    It’s the sort of performance that announces itself with the subtlety of a lit-up highway construction sign. Caution: Actress at Work.
  23. Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    Although the movie doesn't go in for quick fixes, it's not particularly revelatory or insightful. It's a textbook paradigm of grief, loss, and regrouping laid out in three acts.
  24. 38
    A painfully stolid movie that lumbers past emotional issues like a wrestler in a cafeteria line, putting a little of everything on his plate.
  25. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    I'm genuinely of two minds about the picture. I want to say it's subtle, but I also want to say it's heavy-handed. I want to say it's incisive, but I have too many problems with its psychological elisions to let it off the hook.
  26. 20
    It's not the implausibility of its plot, the shallowness of its characters, its funereal pace, its tenuous understanding of teenage behavior, its commercial-ready TV-movie-style direction, or the fact that Pfeiffer and Williams may be the most implausible Italian-Americans since James Caan -- the film is most undone by its near-complete lack of genuine drama.
  27. It has the overwhelming stench of a film afflicted by star ego -- Michelle Pfeiffer is never wrong, which is exactly what is wrong with The Deep End of the Ocean.
  28. The movie's a floating longboat that ought to be ignited and pushed out to sea, Viking style.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 2 out of 5
  1. Jun 17, 2013
    This should be made for television to watch after lunch if you have nothing to do instead .
    The story is so emotional but they failed to
    This should be made for television to watch after lunch if you have nothing to do instead .
    The story is so emotional but they failed to transform it to an acceptable movie
    Full Review »
  2. AgustinA.
    Sep 20, 2007
    Is a excellent movie with an excellent plot a history that catches to the spectator at any moment the truth is that I recommend it.