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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A softer, more sensitive Tommy Lee Jones

Author: Doctor_Bombay from Lucas Buck, NC
27 March 1999

The roll of a rather naïve young priest, with plenty of shy, sex appeal gives Tommy lee Jones an opportunity to flex his acting chops in this made for TV film.

When he comes upon a dying young man, a man who professes his devotion to the church, rather than name his killer, Father Joseph McMahon (Jones) takes upon himself a quest to learn more about the man, and the circumstances surrounding his murder.

This quest opens the priest to a whole new world outside the sheltered existence of his parish. When he meets the slain man's girlfriend (Annette O'Toole), they begin an emotional intertwine.

Fine fare with above average performances and a good cast including David Strathairn, a striking Frances Fisher, M. Emmet Walsh, and Milo O'Shea.

Good, solid, emotional drama.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

one of Tommy Lee Jone's finest

Author: Rosie Millar from UK
14 April 2001

this is one of the most charming movies I've seen, but also with moments of drama, comedy and just all round good feeling. Tommy Lee Jones is excellent as always, and Annette O'Toole is wonderful as the girlfriend of the murder victim, and also Mr Jones's character's subsequent love interest. It is genuinely warm and moving without being too sweet or sickly as some love stories are. Mr Jones is a wonderful actor and this gives him yet another chance to shine as a priest torn between his duty to his calling and the woman he has come to love. Well worth a watch.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Worth seeing due to an unusual performance by Tommy Lee Jones

Author: ereyna from Chicago
23 November 1998

In Broken Vows, Tommy Lee Jones plays a shy, diffident Catholic priest who arrives at a crime scene just in time to give the last rites to the victim (David Straitharn). Intrigued by the slain man's last words, Jones sets out to find out more about him and the circumstances leading to his murder. For the first time, he ventures outside of the sheltered and ritualized world of the priesthood in which he has become immured and begins to meet people from all walks of life. In the course of his investigation, Jones meets the slain man's girlfriend, played by Annette O'Toole. The two immediately strike sparks off one another and an awkward, lively and tender relationship develops between the two. In a departure from his usual blustery macho roles, Tommy Lee Jones is in fine form as a young priest whose entire world is shaken as a consequence of a chance encounter with a dying man. The manner of man's death reawakens Jones' intellect and sensuality. For the first time, he questions the dogma that rules his circumscribed life and partakes of the life that exists beyond the doors of his church.

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A little-known gem

Author: Victoria Simmons from United States
30 January 2014

This TV movie was so unexpected in its subject matter and so thoughtful in its execution that it blew me away when I first saw it in 1987. When it showed up again on Lifetime years later, I made sure to get it on tape.

Tommy Lee Jones is Father Joe MacMahon. One of several priests at an inner-city church, he is settling into middle-age and his unchallenging duties, which don't include any real outreach to the people in the neighborhood. Without realizing it he has settled into mediocrity. When he is called to the death bed of a man who has been stabbed, he is shocked and puzzled that the man--though nominally a Catholic--refuses the last rites of the Church, preferring to die on his own terms, secure in his sense of God, and without saying who stabbed him. It's not so much that Joe's faith is shaken by this encounter, but he is made aware of his own complacency. He sets out to solve the mystery of the man's life and death, so as to try to understand his perspective on faith. He is joined along the way by Annette O'Toole, the dead man's sometime girlfriend, and a romantic awareness arises between them that is played out with humor and grace.

This is one of the few movies that deals with questions of faith, and it does so thoughtfully. Despite the murder mystery and the Thornbirds sort of situation with the priest and the girl beginning to fall for one another, this is not a flashy sort of film. The reviewer who thought the film attacks the Catholic Church is quite wrong. What the film is addressing is the need for faith to be humane, active and mindful, whether in the Church or outside of it. The film moves quietly, the tension provided by Jones' questing intelligence and the sense he gives that Joe is awake and aware for the first time in years. Jones is supported by a fine cast, especially Annette O'Toole as the good-humored and decent, if slightly kooky, artist, and also M. Emmett Walsh, Frances Fisher, Milo O'Shea, David Groh, and Jean de Baer. A then-new David Strathairn has a tiny but pivotal moment as the Christlike dying man, convincing us that this is a man who would leave a permanent mark on the soul of the priest whose offices he so gently refused.

"Broken Vows" doesn't provide sensationalism or thrills. In fact, its few attempts to generate excitement or suspense feel artificially ramped up. But the beautiful writing, and the actors firing on all cylinders because they know they have meaty material to work with, hold us to the end. This is a movie of ideas that richly repays the viewer who enters its world on its terms.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

a film for television on a wet Sunday afternoon

Author: marieinkpen from United Kingdom
20 April 2009

usual TV fare really, and made in 1986 it has an awful array of big shouldered clothes that poor annette o'toole had to wear (that red coat is absolutely dire and the poor actress who played maureen has probably tried to burn every copy of the film in existence. not that i'm shallow of course... ). it was watchable because tommy lee jones is always watchable and the growing spark between him and annette o'toole's character was charismatic. the other actors were OK too but not a film i will keep to watch again because though it tries hard to be interesting something about it is irredeemably naff and lacking in any real style or substance

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3 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Predictable Tripe

Author: slappytheclown from US
30 November 2001

This worthless movie was obviously created by someone who doesn't know enough about the priesthood to condemn it as much as they do. Falling back on every cliche about the priesthood they could muster, all the people who made this movie do is succeed in irritating and preaching with a type of blind passion that they condemn in the Church. I wish I never would have paid the $2.50 to rent it.

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