22 August 2005 | musicboater
Gets by on a good story
This film is was made in 1995 as a television drama for a broadcast network. The film is a made-for-TV-movie and thus has all of the elements that make it a mediocre, predictable, well, television movie. The fact that the story is based (and at times the exact same) on true events that occurred to the Hawkins family is the only real reason the film is worthwhile watching.
Lea Thompson plays Brianne Hawkins, a woman suffering from mental and physical abuse from her family members, particularly her husband, Clay. The plot builds when she and Clay are found guilty of murder and she helps create a story to keep them out of prison...and the rest is history.
Thompson's acting is above average (for a television film), and her portrayal of Brianne is authentic. In addition, the abusive husband Clay, played by James Marshall (who is normally known for easy-going, kind characters) is also above par. Marshall's roles are usually hit-and-miss, although this character is performed quite well. The audience identifies with all of the characters and finds sympathy with Brianne and the Cleary family.
Peter Werner, an old expert at television film, shows us nothing new with the film, but gives us the typical melodrama that comes with a TV film. It seems, during certain scenes, that Werner could add more direction to both the cinematography and the acting, as they seem stale and overused at times. Werner does do a good job, however, instilling some underlying themes in the film, and gives the viewer the chance to think about the situation and reflect upon values and morals.
Mark Snow's music is great in its own right, but at times Werner seems as if he doesn't know when to place it. Overall, however, the jazzy, suspenseful feel Snow gives the audience is acceptable.
I would recommend this film to anyone who has studied the Brianne Hawkins's case, and to anyone who is a fan of Werner, Thompson, or Marshall. Otherwise, this film shows nothing particularly exciting. The fact the story is true--to a certain extent--makes the film worthwhile, but it's not something I recommend people rushing to buy or rent. If you're looking for a two-hour time passer, I'd suggest one give it a shot, but don't prioritize this film above much else.