12 February 2003 | petershelleyau
the attentions of Robert Hays
Kate Findlay (Victoria Principal) is a Boston college assistant who is stalked by her ex-husband Paul Olavsky (Robert Hays). Kate's marriage to Paul began to deteriorate when he injured his back as a policeman and was pensioned off the service. Unwilling to work again he projected all his frustrations onto Kate, before she was driven to a divorce.
As a woman who is `half Sicilian' Principal has black hair which she wears in a short bob and longer for flashbacks to her marriage. Playing a mother is unusual for Principal, and here she is uniformly excellent, particularly with the panting fear she uses in a hospital scene after Paul has raped her. In spite of the sombreness of the material, she also scores a laugh when a judge orders Paul have a psychiatric evaluation - `What's to evaluate? He's stalking me day and night!'
The teleplay by Marshall Goldberg, based on a true story, uses flashbacks through most of the narrative, building consecutively as Kate remembers, so we can see Paul's progressive abuse. As an ex-cop, Kate believes the police are stalling on having Paul arrested, in spite of him violating a protection order sworn against him. Kate's new live-in boyfriend Dan (Christopher Lawford) is also subject to Paul's attention, with harassment and a violent encounter before the titular act against Kate.
Director Larry Peerce presents Hays in a change of image role, so that he is lit unflatteringly, and the bland congeniality has subtext. Despite some bad rear projection when Kate and Paul are in a car, Peerce relies upon Principal's reactions to keep the narrative moving, and has an effective edit from a memory of Kate being cold in her house because Paul has turned down the heat to save money, to Kate freezing in the snow where she has run to escape Paul.