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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Transcends the cliches of its genre

Author: budikavlan from Austin, Texas
23 October 2002

This movie epitomizes two telefilm genres (the Sunday Night Tearjerker and the Lifetime Movie) but towers above most examples of both. It aired as a two-parter; the first half told the story of a woman's murder by her husband and his eventual arrest for the crime, while the second concerned the custody battle over the couple's son between her sister (Bertinelli) and his parents (Huddleston and Fletcher).

The first half retains an admirable level of tension throughout, though the crime isn't ever really a mystery. Thankfully, the actual crime is not shown, though the filmmakers found a better way to convey its brutality: the final shot of the first half of the show is one of the most shocking sights I've ever seen on television.

The custody battle in the second part is less suspenseful but raises several interesting questions. The cultural bias by the killer's parents against the evil, urban, ethnic (Italian) family of the victim had some resonance in their son's marriage. Not to overgeneralize, but a friend of mine was married to a man from rural Indiana and his family was a LOT like the people in this film. The filmmakers clearly sided with wife's family on this point--the "moral" Hoosiers are both unattractive and unpleasant. The question of how their "heartland values" produced their monster of a son is never really addressed.

The performances are uniformly excellent and often surprising. Bertinelli and Chris Meloni as her husband prove to be far more than a couple of (very) pretty faces, as does Michael Ontkean as the cold blooded killer. It is important that this not get lost by being lumped in with the scores of similar but inferior TV movies.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The best movie I've seen

Author: jmanr
12 December 2004

I think this movie is one of my most favorite movies on lifetime. I have seen it about 3 or 4 times on lifetime and always wondered when they will release it on DVD. I am amazed how Valerie Bertinelli played a grieving sister who wants to put away her sisters husband and also get custody of her sisters son. She is a wonderful actress, who wont let nothing or no one in her way of getting what should be done. The law enforcers also played a good deed for the grieving family. This movie shows how the law works sometimes, and as for Valerie Bertinelli's character, she did not stop til she and her family won all the way. This movie will have you teary-eyed and thinking how a person could do this to his wife and have his parents believe what he said. I think his family should serve time for helping their son. After you see this movie, you will still think about this movie, you will talk about this movie to your friends. I admire everyone who played in this movie and think they are good actors and actresses.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful Movie

Author: StrwberryShortcake26 from United States
2 June 2004

This is a wonderful made for TV movie that I would highly recommend. It is a tearjerker, so be sure to have a box of Kleenex handy. All though it is long (four hours with commercials) it is worth watching every moment of it over and over again. Valerie Bertinelli's portrayal of a grieving sister is one that should have gotten her at least a nomination for an award, if not won it. The supporting cast is amazing in ever sense of the word as well. This movie cannot be truly appreciated unless you've seen it with your own two eyes. In A Child's Name manages to tap every emotion known to man--sadness, anger, fear and joy. It is certainly a movie that will instantly become a favorite. I am patiently awaiting its release on DVD (hopefully).

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great movie - I saw it made.

Author: Scubadiverbob from United States
28 December 2005

I was at some of the filming of this movie (in Wilmington, NC)and it was great. I was also involved in the investigation of this crime.

People always want to know if the book (made first) and the movie are as what actually happened. My answer is that both are Very Close to the actual facts in the matter.

There are some minor differences between the book and the movie but nothing of any value that would drastically change anything. If you have seen the movie - get the book and read it. The book has some of the trial of Dr. Taylor and the movie covers almost nothing of the trial. A forensic pathologist (Doctor)testified at the trial - and the same Dr. testified in OJ's trial.

Questions? Let me know. Bob

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This is the best true story movie I have ever seen.

Author: misty_2001sc
25 July 2001

This movie is heartwarming and a real tearjerker. I have a copy of it on tape, and I watch it all the time. I never get tired of watching the Taylor's get what they deserved. I really enjoyed watching it over and over again.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Kudos to Valerie Bertinelli-

Author: MarieGabrielle from United States
19 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

as Angela Cimarelli, the concerned sister who realizes something is awry with her sister's "perfect" marriage.

Her sister marries Michael Ontkean- (what families of low income may have considered a prize) he is a dentist, with great future potential earnings. He cheats on her, has several affairs, and when she returns from Acapulco after the honeymoon, she has already been physically abused. Only Angela has the first instinct: something is wrong.

This is a haunting tale because it is based on a true story. At first the family is in denial. Louise Fletcher is Ontkeans mother. ..."Dear God they live here?"... she intones as she meets the future daughter in law (Cimarelli family in NY). Apparently Ontkeans family is from Indiana. Whether or not they actually drove an over-sized RV to the wedding (I would question that fact) but the differences in family background (religion and social strata) are delineated at the outset.

Ontkean eventually buys the obligatory over-priced house, has a thriving practice, and is finally in control (he thinks) he can even pop home at lunchtime- do a few lines of cocaine and go back to his work as an oral surgeon. His life is perfect.

Then his wife informs him she is pregnant. (Stop the cameras, his reaction is priceless) Apparently this did not fit into his plans. His wife has the baby but clearly this is a mere inconvenience to him.

The scenes where he disposes of the body, and the inter-actions between the sisters are very emotional. The scenes with the police, and when they investigate the home where the murder has been committed, using Luminol, are disturbing and effective. Louise Fletcher (Ontkeans Mom) asks the police why the bedroom is "glowing". ..."Because of the blood and DNA stains, M'am" ...the police factually answer. She still denies that her son is capable of murder. UNREAL.

It is sad that the baby lost her mother, but Bertinelli (the Cimarelli family) eventually adopt the child. A positive outcome in a truly disturbing true story. Best thoughts and prayers go out to the Cimarelli family and the pain they must have lived through. Stories like this NEED to be told. 8/10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Justice Is Great

Author: RaeganBeaumont_99 from United States
15 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There is nothing better than seeing someone who is straight up evil and heartless get what is coming to them. This movie was a tragic story but one that had a great ending. A man marries a young woman and beats her almost to death on their honeymoon, although the wife vows he didn't do it, only to find out for sure later that he did. After having a son with this man, he precedes to beat her to death, cleans up the murder and drives around with her body in his car for a week. Once he is found out, he makes up an outlandish story about why he did what he did. His sister-in-law (Valerie Bertinelli) fights to get her nephew back and to prove that he is trying to keep her from doing that. Pregnant and losing her sister she is emotional but she is strong and angry and knows exactly what this man is about, hes a liar. Hes a wife beater and she isn't going to let it go. Sharing custody with his parents they fight with everything they have, finding a lawyer to actually help their cause and get her nephew back. In the end thats exactly what she does. Getting custody and raising her nephew along side her own new daughter. Its a true story of a sister fighting for what she knows is right. Fighting for what she knew her sister would have wanted for her child. She doesn't give up and she doesn't quit. Its a touching movie, a sad movie and a horrendous sight a how someone could brutally kill another the way her husband did. He paid for what he did and he will never see his child again. A good movie, a must see.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Yes, Virginia -- Valerie Bertinelli _can_ act

Author: julikell from United States
19 May 2001

I usually don't watch the junk on Lifetime, but I'm on a Valerie Bertinelli binge. (I'm just recovering from my Deborah Kerr binge.) This is what so-called "women's television" should be -- a compelling story (Whether it's "true" or not has never been a selling point with me.), very well-drawn characters, and a solid script. If you'll pardon the screenwriter's lingo, the set-up was one of the best I've ever seen. The Silvano family was colorful without being a parody of Italian-Americans. Each member was presented as an individual as well a part of the whole. Finally, I first realized Valerie Bertinelli (VB) was (and is) one darn good actress when I saw her in "The Haunting of Helen Walker." Another exception to the usual Lifetime TV fare, I was floored by VB's performance -- solid, subtle without being underacted, giving her own interpretation to a well-known character. In "In a Child's Name," VB gives another very good performance, presenting a well-rounded character -- recognizable and one-of-a kind at the same time. Yep, one darn good actress...

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I just knew this had to be based on a true story...

Author: calvinnme from United States
11 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

... because the film's depiction of a sociopath is just too realistic, the government case workers are overworked but care and try to be fair within the constraints of the law, the attorneys work hard for their clients but are not about to stick out their necks, and the judges are a mixed bag. Some are truly impartial, others are easily influenced by the good old boy system. If this wasn't a true story and the Lifetime channel writers had gotten a hold of it, the ending would be the villain busting out of prison, doing a commando style raid on the heroine's home in the middle of the night, and her ironically killing him with one of his own barbells. But I digress.

This film is basically in two parts and is a long film but one that keeps your interest. The first half of the film is how Teresa Silvano, of Italian Catholic background and a dental hygienist, gets mixed up with soft spoken dentist Ken Taylor, with those Ken doll looks. He's big on shows of affection, and in the midst of a divorce, and after a whirlwind courtship, he marries Teresa. But all is not well. You see Ken has two ex-wives not one, is still bedding the soon to be second ex whenever she will allow it, calls 900 numbers for sex talk, is an embezzler, main lines cocaine, and is always trying to seduce other women to build up his ego. In short, Ken is a sociopath, and a pretty good one at that.

The trouble really starts on the honeymoon in Mexico though. There Teresa is assaulted while she is sleeping, and almost beaten to death. Ken is initially jailed for it. He claims to the angry Silvano family that three guys in ski masks burst in on their hotel room and assaulted and robbed them. He claims the Mexican government arrested him because they are corrupt. In fact, he probably paid them off and they let him go because they are corrupt. The Silvanos can't get over how Teresa is a swollen broken mess requiring a lengthy hospital recuperation and Ken only has a couple of wounds. From this point forward Ken is tolerated by the Silvanos only because Theresa says Ken could not have done this thing and she remembers nothing of the attack.

Teresa has a baby, and when he is five months old she finds evidence that proves Ken was the person who beat her up on her honeymoon. Plus Ken's just under the surface explosive temper that just smolders keeps her on edge. Heck it kept me on edge too. So you just know one day he is going to erupt and finish the job he started in Mexico. He does. Yet he never blows his cool in front of the audience. He's always got some smooth answer for everything. Well, even in the days before DNA, the police have seen plenty of guys like pretty boy Ken, and they are having none of his story after Teresa's body is found, which Ken didn't really even try to hide when he left it by the side of the road in Pennsylvania. It's like he's been smooth talking his way through life this long and just thinks he can keep on doing this forever. The justice system metes out a 30 year sentence. And now the question is what to do about Teresa and Ken's baby.

Thus begins the second half of the film. The real star of the show, Valerie Bertinelli as Teresa's little sister Celeste. begins a legal battle over custody of Teresa's baby with Ken's parents, who are the only people on the planet that believe Ken has been unjustly convicted, that he killed in self defense - with nine blows with a barbell? - because to believe otherwise is to believe they raised a monster on milk and cookies. The just world syndrome just won't let them do that. So how does this work out? Watch and find out. And don't think that Kenny boy is through messing with people's lives just because he is behind bars either.

From this point on, and to some extent all through the film, this story has been just not about crime and custody, but about rural versus urban America, Protestants versus Catholics, essentially red versus blue America more than a decade before that phraseology entered the vernacular. Ken's family are small town Protestants from Indiana, and the Silvanos are Italian Catholics from Staten Island, each with all of the culture and the support of their communities that come with it, and they just don't get one another. Highly recommended. It will very much keep your interest. This is not just another chick flick.

Finally, note the continually supportive husband of Celeste - eighth billed Christopher Meloni as Jerry Cimarelli. With his long hair and still 20-something looks I barely recognized him. He is now probably the most visible member of the cast with his long time role on Law and Order SVU as Elliot Stabler.

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Best True Story Movie You'll Ever Watch!

Author: therese_allie from United States
1 September 2014

Although it's a messed up story, it is the most memorable true story movie I have ever watched. I remember watching it when it first aired when I was 12 with my mom, and have watched it several times since. It is a movie that once you watch it, you never forget it. And it's was a two part movie so it is almost 3 hours long. You are on the edge of your seat the whole time. Such a great cast too & they did such a good job. I haven't read the book yet but look forward to reading it. At least at the end, he gets what he deserves! This is not your typical Lifetime movie. If you like watching true story movies like I do, this is definitely one to watch :)

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