Wesley (Danny Murphy) loves being at home with his sister and his mother (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is loving and fiercely protective. She’s had to be – she’s alone with the kids much of the time, and Wesley going to a school for kids with special needs. He’s deaf, but there’s something else that sets him apart. He’s bullied at school and on the bus, and the space where he’s comfortable and safe shrinks even further when his father returns from whatever labour keeps the men in North Dakota away from home for weeks or months at a time. His dad is less kind, less patient. And sometimes unkind and impatient.
And then one day Wesley makes a friend. I should say, Wesley stumbles upon a badly injured fugitive (Aaron Paul). But with so few friends, Wesley endeavours to show this man kindness. He hides him, feeds him, cares for his wounds, all very stealthily. The police presence is increasing, his father ever-watching, and the pressure mounts as it dawns on Wesley that there perhaps isn’t going to be a happy ending.
Wesley is a young boy who is weighing the difference between right and wrong, and determining the gulf between morality and loyalty, and which circumstances are worth compromising one for the other.
For all that, the movie is rather small, mostly revolving around an abandoned barn where one might hide a wanted man. There’s not much plot, not much action. It’s a lot of static, which is wonderful for establishing character and portraiture, but for a thriller, it’s awfully contained. Still, with fine performances and decent direction, The Parts You Lose is a worthy gamble.