20 November 2001 | petershelleyau
aka Urge to Kill
This TVM features an early lead role for Holly Hunter as the younger sister of a schoolgirl who has been killed, and the daughter of Karl Malden who has mythologised his late daughter into being a "perfect princess". The home movie we see him watching of them together has the queasy suggestion of overcompensation for Malden's deceased wife. The past is revisited in the form of the return of the boy to town believed to be responsible, released from the asylum he had been sent to since his conviction has been set aside on the basis of "insanity". It seems lithium brings em home. While writer/director Mike Robe errs in the use of a maudlin and reductive music score, what moves the narrative along is the exploration of a crime involving primal motives, and his 3 act dramatic structure. Malden's relationship with Hunter has a Shakespearian resonance - the surviving daughter as disappointment - and Robe brilliantly exploits Hunter's resemblance to her sister to perversely repeat the identity-destroying dilemma in another relationship. Of course, anyone that doesn't appreciate Holly Hunter as an individual we know to be a fool, even when Robe presents her unflatteringly in comparison to the princess. Hunter plays what might be seen as a moment of character triumphant revenge as a moment of pain, and she holds her own with veterans like Malden and Shirley Knight as the boy's mother. Robe also does well with Alex McArthur (from Madonna's Papa Don't Preach music video) as the boy, Paul Sorvino as his father though it isn't much of a role, and even William Devane as Hunter's boss. The scene where the amnesia is broken and the death is dramatised from memory uses the cliched standard I-can-see-what-I-didn't-see-originally, with Robe's clumsy use of the deceased girl's realtime stand-in, and the end is ambiguous and unsatisfying, but he pauses effectively from an objective fired gun, the audience not knowing who has been shot.