Child's Cry (1986)

Child's Cry (1986)
 
 

For Eric

Lindsay Wagner in Child's Cry (1986)

"Child's Cry" is one mixed bag of a movie as for everything which is good there is something which is not so much bad but just not as good. It makes it strangely fascinating because you are never sure as to what you are going to get, one moment this storyline of child abuse is sensitive and touching but then the next it seems cliche and a bit cheesy. You also wonder where it is going because here we have the question over whether Peter Coyote is playing a child abusing parent or is this going to evolve with his character and Lindsay Wagner's going to become an item as it has this softness as well. It is why it is a really mixed bag of a movie which in truth keeps you on your toes.

With her job as a social worker getting on top of her it was only matter of time before Joanne Van Buren (Lindsay Wagner - Nighthawks) would snap and following an altercation with a man suspected of wife beating her boss transfers her to child services. It is there she meets Eric (Taliesin Jaffe) a withdrawn little boy who was found sleeping on a zoo bench. Having discovered that Eric was once the school clown but now has become withdrawn Joanne has Eric kept in care whilst his father Matt Townsend (Peter Coyote - E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) is questioned. But as she spends time with Eric she sees conflicting signs as one minute he seems nervous the next he seems to miss his father.

Peter Coyote in Child's Cry (1986)

So what we have in "Child's Cry" is a movie from the 1980's which whilst serving up this story and mystery over whether Eric has been abused and if so was it his father is actually more of a public awareness movie. What I mean by that is it shows us signs of what to look for, it highlights the procedure side of things as we see Joanne investigate and become close to Eric and we also get spoon-fed certain facts and things like no one wants to believe it is happening or the trauma of trial. This does mean watching it now makes it feel old hat but still a worthy movie which sensitively approaches the subject of abuse.

But we also get more depth to it than just the look of abuse as we have that mystery surrounding what happened to Eric, why he went from out going to shy. And we also have a look at the character of Joanne a single woman who is starting to feel incomplete for not being a wife or mother. It's a typical aspect but it actually does a nice job of fleshing out her character.

What is surprising is that the two main stars Lindsay Wagner and Peter Coyote play it very low key, never trying to over act but find the emotion of their character. What this means is that whilst both Wagner and Coyote play it quite naturally the supporting performances end up feeling too forced. Well the supporting performances with the exception of Taliesin Jaffe as Eric who is just as natural as Wagner and Coyote.

What this all boils down to is that considering its age "Child's Cry" is still both an interesting and entertaining movie. But it is also a mixed bag because for everything which feels right there is something which feels wrong.

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