An Element of Truth (1995 TV Movie)
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By the way, the summary on the cover of the DVD I purchased corresponds to the mentioned conventions but is completely inaccurate. I did not see the main character as an ice-cold femme fatale set on sucking her victims dry of finances by stealing their hearts". She rather seems, for some undisclosed reasons, confused and deeply entangled in make-believe schemes in which she dupes herself as much as others. Her actions take a twisted course and are often not very coherent or smart. I pretty much suspected that there is a true story behind the screenplay.
Actually, there is a certain resemblance with the movie The Man Who Wasn't There" by the Coen Brothers. The main character (Donna Mills, pleasant, good looking lady and convincing performer) is not satisfied with her life. She has a vague idea about a goal she wants to attain and which she tries to reach with apparently limited intellectual means. In the beginning she tells her future employer (Brock Peters in a small but good performance) that she is an expert in stocks and bonds but only wants a job as a secretary because she has to deal with a tragedy in the family. Does it make sense? Not really. She is hired and slyly gets her fellow secretary to open a fake brokerage account.
She then gets encouraged by her church community to look for a partner via the church approved dating service. As everyone can see: This movie is rather realistic than glamorous. She settles with a medium-rich bachelor and gets money from him she says she will invest for him, presenting balance sheets from the fake account. But she doesn't invest anything. Instead she dumps the cash in a safe deposit box where it just ... rots.
Her gullible boyfriend and prospective husband (the always reliable Peter Riegert) is put under pressure by her to improve his image and business prospects via the purchase of a bigger house. The whole financial setup is laid our with painstaking accuracy, or fake accuracy, if you will. The cash of the loan gets to the safe deposit box.
Then the lady meets a man with whom she apparently really falls in love. For him she empties the safe deposit box and prepares a love nest with dollar bills (literally). They make love on the greenbacks, and the next day the lady awakes with the lover gone and the bills gone. C'est la vie, as the French say. She has to start filling the safe deposit box from scratch.
An insurance scam which involves the murder of the boyfriend she by now has married seems the last straw before the whole house of cards she constructed with her lies collapses. The earlier mentioned fellow secretary who lives in the couple's mansion as a boarder (by the invitation of the main character who really behaves to her as a real friend) finds out about her scam and her murder scheme and the lady gets arrested.
So there's actually not one single murder in this movie and the actors go easy on the dramatic side. I even detected a hint of irony here and there. But the leisurely pace suits this little story" very well and creates an atmosphere which is strangely intimate. It is easy to feel for the characters, even the bad ones. Basically they all seem to be normal middle class people with everyday worries and not monsters. All the inconsistencies that there might be in this movie combine in a miraculous way to make it better.