In these days of ancestry.com and genetic testing through the mail, it’s becoming normal both to rediscover forgotten relatives as well as find out about relatives you never knew you had. And it must be disconcerting to be informed via e-mail that you might have a long-lost relation out there, when you always thought you knew every Cousin Joe and Aunt Celia you have. Better informed relatives must frequently have some awkward explanations to make about these situations. In Long Lost, the twenty-something Seth (Adam Weppler) gets a letter inviting him to the house of the brother he never knew he had, literally. The wealthy Richard (Nicholas Tucci), who lives in a lavish house in the country, has decided it’s time to get to know his younger half-sibling, and what better way than to let him stay for a while?
The first surprise is how stern Richard is, not exactly the image of a man anxious to get to know his last surviving relative. At first all his conversations with Seth revolve around Richard complaining about how stupid Seth is and what bad decisions he’s making in regards to the internet business he’s trying to start up, which isn’t really happy reunion material. The second surprise is Richard’s live-in girlfriend, Abby (Catherine Corcoran), who Richard never bothered to mention. She frequently ends up playing peacemaker between the two brothers, assuring Seth that he’ll get used to Richard, though I never believed her myself. Richard’s reactions are wildly unpredictable, for one thing, and for another he likes to turn everything into a game… which wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t also a sore loser.
To make things even more complicated, Abby is a little too interested in Seth and seems to have more in common with him than her boyfriend. Between this and Richard’s idea of teasing — I know sibling teasing can get rough, but he always seems more like he’s trying to start a fistfight than anything else — the visit is a tense one, to say the least, and Seth has to be very forgiving. Inevitably, however, Richard’s games start to veer into much stranger, darker territory, and Seth will have to decide how far he’s really willing to go in the name of brotherly love.
I’ll give it four and a half out of five. There’s a wonderful slow build to the movie, and the interplay among the three characters is compelling. Each has their own (often contradictory) motivations and expectations, and the underlying power struggles are realistic and convincing. Tucci’s performance as the volatile Richard steals more than a few scenes, but Corcoran as the quietly intriguing Abby and Weppler’s portrayal of a young man still trying to cling to his ideals more than hold their own, creating an intricate web of relationships. Family can be complicated — and in Long Lost, the complications run further than you’d ever imagine.