Louis Yansen's "Misplaced" is an immigrant story that gives us almost all we need to know in its title. The picture, which was shot in and around Washington and chronicles the efforts of a sensitive young Polish teenager and his mother to adjust to their new home in America, is almost punishingly mundane in its details. If you've seen one immigrant saga, you've seen "Misplaced."
Practically all the most hackneyed cliches and predictable developments are in place here. Poor and disadvantaged by his ignorance of the language, the boy -- who's name is Jacek (John Cameron Mitchell) -- is forced to work on a sanitation crew, despite his towering abilities as a violinist, and to wear the nerdy new clothes his uncle buys him that make him the butt of his classmates' jokes. (They call him the Wimp From Warsaw.) The mother -- whose name is Halina (Elzbieta Czyzewska) -- must also suffer the indignity of working as a cleaning woman at the Voice of America, where even her countrymen snub her.
Gradually, though, the outsiders begin to acclimate themselves to their environment, but the writing is not sharp or original enough to draw us in. Nor can the actors compensate for the script's deficiencies. Only Viveca Lindfors, who plays Jacek's grandmother (and who must be the world's most beautiful woman) brings any drama to her scenes. Even the backdrop of a government crackdown back home plays weakly, like old news. It's easy to imagine that in creating their project, the filmmakers felt compelled by a great sense of mission and urgency, but none of that feeling has made it onto the screen. "Misplaced" is so generalized that it could have been made by anyone.
Misplaced, at the Biograph, is unrated.