Nick Stahl fabulously portrays Chuck Norstadt, a young kid in a dysfunctional home and with no father. He is naturally curious about McLeod and pesters the former teacher relentlessly until he agrees to tutor him. McLeod has a soft side, but for the most part, he's all business and is usually brusk with Chuck.
Despite the lack of warm fuzzies from McLeod, Chuck prefers his consistent normalcy than his self-centered, bed-hopping mother who says to him, "I'm just not cut out for this mothering racket." Charming, heh?
Chuck proves himself to McLeod by studying his butt off. He works hard and excells in his studies and the two develop respect for each other and a true friendship - and for a time, although it is never openly acknowledged by either of them, Chuck has a a father and McLeod has a son - together they are more of a family than either of them has apart from each other.
The local yokels are suspicious about Chuck's relationship with McLeod and suspect that McLeod has less than honorable intentions. Driven by gossip, fear, prejudice and hate, they threaten to ruin the time they have together.
The "man without a face" is the father Chuck never got to know - the man with half a face and a full heart is the one he grows to admire and who he aspires to emulate and to make proud.
This is a sweet, emotion-filled movie - it is quite amazing that Nick Stahl did not get tons of movie offers after this incredible debut in a major film. It was good to finally see him again in "Terminator 3" where he did another fine job.
Family safe, but perhaps too intense and too involved for younger kids, this is a good film to watch together as a family to discuss prejudice and to discuss how hurtful words and gossip can be to other people, irregardless of how tempting gossip tends to be.