The family in this story seems perfect: well-to-do, situated in a lovely home at the edge of Lake Tahoe, three children in the home, a retired military grandfather, and a caring, competent mother (Tilda Swinton). The absentee father, a military officer, is at sea. All appears as calm and still as the deep lake in their physical midst and at the story's center.

The story primarily concerns the mother and Beau, the oldest son (Jonathan Tucker), an extremely sensitive and gifted musician currently being considered for a scholarship at a major university. What viewers come to know is that the young man is exploring his sexuality with an inappropriate male opportunist in the nearby city.

When the mother suspects that her son is meeting someone, she confronts the amused man, asks him to back off, and returns home. The man finds their home that same night, meets with the son, and demands money. When the spurned man leaves, he slips on the dock and hits his head on a rock. The son had already returned to the house.

The surface world of lunches, carpools, and school activities is shattered by the mother's discovery of the familiar body in the lake at the edge of the family dock. Unbeknownst to the mother, the death of the man/her son's initial partner, is accidental. She assumes the worst and automatically moves to protect her son. While managing the ordinary routine for her family, she struggles to get the body into a skiff and sink it with weights in a different location.

Of course the body is discovered within a short time and unfortunately for the mother, associates of the deceased are able to figure out the scenario, or at least the connections with the son. She is approached by blackmailers with impossible financial demands.


Although flawed in minor ways, the film is at once a cerebral thriller and a powerful exploration of the depths of family relationships and love. Where, we might ask, is the father, and why is the grandfather, a strict man of the military, not involved in the complications of family life? The mother holds the fragile lives together so that all appears smooth. Seething with hidden desperations, she remains steadfast in focus and love. Like the Lake stretched out before the house, unseen dangers lurk beneath the surface and the dangers become more terrifying in the final scenes.

Throughout, serious questions emerge that require audience concern, reflection, and resolve. Most problematic, of course, is the mother's choice upon the discovery of the body and the questions that concern unspoken anxieties about her son's sexual identity. In a household where paternalistic, even militaristic values are implicit, contrasting values and sensitivities, as expressed by the mother and all of her children, but especially by Beau, create non-verbalized tensions.

Primary Source

DVD: Fox Home Video