25 January 2009 | lorcan9000
I cried my eyes out, so maybe I shouldn't raise any objections, but... many things in this beautifully made movie were more simplistic than they needed to be.
The priest called Mary's attention to commands in the Bible she obviously wasn't taking literally in her life: we should stone disobedient children to death, we shouldn't eat shellfish. She then looks up these passages and tells the priest she has read them, and continues to raise questions about his reasoning. But earlier in the movie the family amuses itself with Bible quizzes -- I say a phrase, you tell me the book and chapter it's from. How could a woman who clearly knew the Bible better than she knew her own son not already have read Deuteronomy and Leviticus backwards, forwards, and inside out? For a self-convinced Christian like Mary, the contradictions between the passages in the Bible she liked and the ones she didn't like would have been explained away long before the events of this story.
Also, as another poster has said, the story didn't really lead us to understand why the boy did what he did. There's a hint that his boyfriend was seeing other guys, he got a really nasty birthday present from his mother, he was very lonely at the hospital where he worked, but -- the dots weren't really connected. It felt like a couple of scenes had been cut, with the effect that at the climactic moment I found myself asking "Wha'?" instead of feeling the horrible inevitability of it.
Why am I criticizing a movie that gave me the best cry I've had in months? Because movies on Lifetime, even the best ones, always pull back from the edge. There is always at least to some degree an ironed-out, homogenized, Canadian-locationized blandness to the storytelling (even though this one wasn't shot in Canada.) What if they let a movie actually be itself? What if they aimed for Sundance quality nuance, naturalism, emotion, unexpectedness in storytelling? The writing and direction on this movie were first-rate, for what it was (and Sigourney Weaver and Ryan Kelley ripped my heart out)-- but I feel that both writer and director could have gone all the way with it and made it a MOVIE.
I wonder why they didn't.