Gavin's latest (The Last Film of Emile Vico, 1986, etc.) is a somber saga of a hoax turned tragedy when a cartoonist and his 12- year-old sidekick move in on an aging, wealthy widow still awaiting the return of her last living relative—a long-lost grandson abducted at the age of three. When the van carrying the Deathwind logo emblazoned on its side rolls into the town of Rising Sun, the locals are already embroiled in the controversy over what old Mrs. Kane would give to the community as a memorial to her grandson Powell. Hard-edged Dusseau and his partner, the precocious, comics-loving Paul, step out of their transient life and into the heart of the controversy by announcing that Paul is the missing Powell. Welcomed to the Kane mansion, Paul bonds with the old lady, eventually coming to the realization that he may not be a fraud after all, while Dusseau, ever-eager to take what he can get, quickly woos and wins the favors of fragile Martha, Mrs. Kane's lovely but guilt-ridden companion. The tissue of lies that Dusseau has fabricated about Paul's past slowly falls apart, with the final blow delivered during a homecoming celebration, when an enterprising reporter reveals all he's learned: that Dusseau is both the boy's father and his abductor. After a violent, hasty departure, dad discovers that his son has stowed away with him, but when the two learn that Mrs. Kane was stricken by the fresh loss of her Powell, Paul leaves Dusseau to go it alone and returns to Rising Sun—too late to undo the damage. With every point of view represented, a dense, tangled tale in which evil and innocence walk together—but fitfully and without purpose, making the final nihilistic scenes seem more convenient than conclusive.
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