As a recovering cutter, I'd read Steven Levenkron's book (as well as other books on self-injury) and I was very interested when I heard that a movie was being made about this very important issue, and I watched (and taped it) when it first premiered under the title, "Secret Cutting" (before the title was later renamed as "Painful Secrets")
When I had been cutting, and when it had been discovered, 10-12 years ago, there had been hardly ANY information about it anywhere. As such there was a LOT of stigma, discrimination and myths associated with it. I think it is a good thing that important issues like this be brought out of the closet and discussed, so there is more information about it out there, and those who suffer will not be scared or ashamed to get help.
So I was very excited when I heard this movie was coming out.
However, even before I actually saw the movie, I had a feeling that the casting would not be good when I saw Rhea Perlman being interviewed on one of the morning shows or talk shows about the movie, and heard that she would be playing the role of the therapist. I thought that, it was an AWFUL choice, and if that was a representation of the judgement of the casting director, that for most part the other characters would probably be no better - and I was unfortunately right.
Now don't get me wrong, I have NOTHING against Rhea Perlman. She is a WONDERFUL comedic actress. I LOVED her in "Matilda" and other movies and shows. But she is not good at serious drama, and she was totally unsuited for an important role that is not meant to be funny like that of this character.I mean every time I saw her different facial expressions and body language, I got the urge to laugh, which is not the purpose of a serious issue movie like this.
A better choice would be someone who can exude compassion, and empathy in her acting, like Nancy Lee Grahn (of General Hospital, 7th Heaven, and other shows) or Teryl Rothery (of Stargate SG-1, who has acted in MANY, MANY made-for-TV movies). Alternately, actresses like Stepfanie Kramer, Patti LuPone, Veronica Hamel, Pam Dawber, and a few others would likely have been good choices for this role. Even Sean Young (who played the mother in this film) would have been a much better casting choice for the part of the therapist, than Rhea Perlman was.
Unfortunately, the bad casting choices did not end with Rhea Perlman. The main role of this movie,the starring character, Dawn Cottrell, was played by Kimberlee Peterson - another HORRIBLE choice.
Again, I have nothing against Kimberlee Peterson, I think she is a great budding actress, and I really enjoyed her in other roles, such as when she guest starred for several episodes as a homeless teen, in "Boston Public", and when she guest-starred on "Strong Medicine". But she was just not right for this role. For one thing, and I mean no offense by this, but she looks like a freak. Especially with her constant raised eyebrow expression (which is extremely annoying and distracting) and the way she would become so excited, nearly to the point of being giddy, while self-injuring, it just perpetuates the myth that those who mutilate themselves, are just "insane, psycho freaks", and it just reinforces the stigma and discrimination against them.
Kimberlee Peterson is a good actress but totally wrong for this part. Better choices for this role would be Kellie Martin (of ER, Life Goes On, and TV movies), Jennie Garth or Tori Spelling (of Beverly Hills 90210), Jessica Biel (of 7th Heaven, and various movies) and Jessica Bowman (of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) Alternately, Katie Wright (of Melrose Place, and various made-for-TV movies), Ariana Richards, and SEVERAL others would likely have been good choices for this role. Even Crystal Buble (who played cruel bully Rebecca in this movie) would be a better casting choice for the part of Dawn Cottrell than Kimberlee Peterson.
The casting of the other characters in this movie ranged from mediocre or average (Mr.& Mrs. Cottrell, the school personnel, etc.) to EXCELLENT (Lorraine, Alex)
Though this is a good movie, the casting for a majority of the main characters was AWFUL, and it really took away from what could have otherwise been a great, informative, and important movie.