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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Important message....

Author: MarieGabrielle from United States
17 September 2008

This movie deserves some credit for the message it conveys, a not so popular reality about rehabilitation.

Michael Ontkean is believable as a former sex offender who is now living in a small town in a nondescript area of rural California. He is on parole, and his officer (well-portrayed by capable actress Pamela Reed) is concerned he may be a repeat offender. He was previously convicted for three out of six charges, including aggravated rape.

We see the dehumanization, the mentality towards this crime, and the attitude the town has, once they learn of his crimes. It is realistic. Not certain if this story was based entirely on truth but the killing of his dog was very disturbing. Annette O'Toole is also very good as Ontkean's frightened neighbor, a former victim of rape.

The subject is complex, and we see it through different viewpoints. The perpetrator, trying to re-make his life; the parole officer, upholding the law; the victims, how they are affected, and the simmering rage of frustrated townspeople. All in all a good message worth more studying. 8/10.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Very shrill

Author: teadm from St. Petersburg, FL
14 July 2000

A good premise ruined by overblown melodramatics and acting (with the exception of Michael Ontkean, who plays the rapist with much dignity). I know the movie is in trouble, when the only character I can sympathize with is the bad guy!. This is a good story that deserved a more sober, less sensationalized treatment.

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This story has value because it offers insight into the challenges of not only being a man who has served his time but in being his parole officer.

Author: utilitymb166 from Australia
12 November 2012

I started watching this film just to see how realistic the story was as I am particularly interested in films based on true stories. At first the story was quite predictable with a man who had served time for rape coming to settle in a small town because his brother was there. Once people came to know his background, it took very little time before things got complex and very unpleasant.

Soon I realised the story was as much about his parole officer and her doubts about him as it was about his own struggle. I began to get more interested when he attended a counselling group and I got some insight into how such groups were run--it was quite confrontational. My impression of this story is it could have been written by someone familiar with the challenges of being a parole officer, especially in a small town. As such I found it quite interesting and realistic.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A paroled serial rapist moves to a small town, outraging local citizens

Author: ochriso from .
1 February 1999

Michael Ontkean is a relatively good looking fellow. In order to make him believable as a creepy serial rapist type he's given a nasty looking old pick-up truck, the obligatory paint-on tattoo, and (kudos to the make up department) a fairly convincing molar/incisor rot job.

Released from prison, Ontkean's character, Eli, takes up residence in a tired little backwater burg that somehow fails to warrant the residents' chest-beating claims that their town is too good for this slimeball.

Pamela Reed is the one bright spot, working wonders with the thin script in her role as a parole officer using every trick in her bag to bully Ontkean back onto the straight and narrow. Things go well for Eli for a while, but upon learning of his past, the townspeople rally as a slightly-less-believable-than-Clinton-on-the-witness-stand lynch squad.

An error in judgement, or editing, or evidence that director Lamont Johnson simply didn't give a rat's butt how this movie looked, shone through in the requisite night time "angry" mob shot. Inexplicably, he focused the cameras on the extras, blatantly occupied in helpfully waving wide-beam flashing lights up, down and across Ontkean's profile in a painstakingly orchestrated manner. Not enough money in the budget to hire crew members to handle lighting effects perhaps?

The director shouts 'Action' and we see (egregiously half-hearted) "angry" mobs waving really silly looking protest signs, looking for the most part terribly confused. (The town's population is presented as 27,000 and they're all reportedly steaming mad. Watch for the same 30 extras who comprise every thin little "angry" mob scene.)

Other than Reed, and a stellar cameo by the actress portraying the cashier Ontkean may have raped after his release, there's a generally lackadaisical feel to all the performances. Ontkean himself looked positively bemused during the cliche-ridden group therapy scenes. "She wanted it," says one good-old-fellow-rapist-boy to another with a merry bootlicking grin. Scowling and leering on cue Ontkean still comes off about as menacing as Bambi's mother.

Then, suddenly, it's all over. The serial rapist is 'rescued' from the wrath of the 'really mean' townspeople and put into a minimum security halfway house for his own protection.

Meaning what? 'All we are saying, is give rapists a chance'?

The message that audiences are more likely to come away with may well be more along the lines of: 'Everyone involved with this project had mortgages and bills to pay and the entire contingent signed on not because they wanted to make a good movie, but because their agents apparently couldn't get them a better gig for summer hiatus.'

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

He's the reason that we have the death penalty!

Author: sol1218 from brooklyn NY
9 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(There are Spoilers) Somewhat overblown TV movie about a convicted serial rapist released on parole into an unsuspecting community and when his true identity is discovered it results into explosive consequences. After doing seven years behind bars for a series of rapes and robberies ex-con Eli Cooley, Michael Ontkean, is released into the quite little town of Fairvile. Eli has his brother Dwight, Sam Anderson, take care of his lodging and give him a job at his business establishment the "Dwights" hardware Store. At first Eli fits right into his new surroundings as a hard working likable and law abiding citizen. But soon things are to change abruptly for him and change for the absolute worst.

We see Eli getting along with the friendly and neighborly people of Fairvil making friends with his next door neighbor single mom Annie Hopkins, Annette O'Toole, and her little boy Cody, Cameron Fife. Who just thinks the world of the tall strong and quiet type of a guy Eli Cooley and his pet dog Fred. Eli is also a big hit at his brothers hardware store as a cashier. Who with his kindly and honest manner gets the store, which was doing good before he came there, more business then ever before.

Just when things couldn't get any better for Eli his neighbor Annie, who works in the Fairview Police Station as a secretary, comes across a police rap sheet about this just released multiple rapist and robber Eli Coolly! Who just happens to be the nice sweet and caring neighbor who lives next door! And whom shes been, what seemed like, very interested in going out on a date with!

The quite and sleepy little town of Fairvile explodes in a fury as everyone in it makes Eli's, as well as his brothers Dwight family, life a living hell with Eli's parole officer Wanda Gilmore, Pamala Reed, being unjustly attacked for allowing Eli to dwell among its fine good and law abiding citizens! With, what they all thought, lust and the thought of raping their women, young old and in between, on his evil mind.

Eli who you can at first sympathize with doesn't make his lot in life in Fairvile all that good either. Later when we see him at the local rapist rehabilitation clinic, just after the shocking truth about him came out, run by counselor Vonette McGee. Where a smirking Eli during Miss McGee's self-help sessions, when he should have known better, didn't at all show any empathy for his victims. All Eli did was just joke and act about what he did to them was nothing more then a number of totally harmless and childish pranks!

Eli trying to keep from being sent back to jail, for breaking his parole, soon loses his interest in staying out from behind bars. Since he now feels that he has more freedom inside, with the criminal element of society that he's used to living with, then outside. Eli then starts to really stretch his parole officers, Wanda Gilmore, patience's with him by doing things that would land him right back into the clink.

The people of Farivile can in a lot of ways be as cruel as Eli ever was by killing his beloved best friend his dog Fred, who had nothing to do with Eli's life of crime, just to get under his skin. That almost had the heart-broken Eli go postal and shoot up the entire town. But it was Wanda who talked him out of doing anything so stupid and destructive risking her life in telling a very angry and distraught Eli that no amount of killing raping pillaging and and burning would bring Fred back!

It's when all these terrible things were happening to the by now mentally disturbed Eli that a number of rapes broke out in town with, you guessed it, Eli being the prime suspect. Turning even Wanda, who was very sympathetic to Eli, against him with one of the rapist victims being supermarket cashier Holly Benson, Robin Joss. The only person in town, besides Eli's brother Dwight, who was willing to even talk to him! This made Eli, who of course didn't do it, almost become suicidal and in the end attempts to end it all in a weird and insane plan that he cooked up in his deranged mind. With an unsuspecting Wanda being part of it, of suicide by police, by giving them no other alternative for the police but to blow Eli away.

Far too contrived to really take seriously the movie is just too pat in it's story and unbelievably unrealistic in it's ending. Even the excellent acting of Michael Ontkean and Pamela Reed , as released rapist and robber Eli Cooley and his parole officer Wanda Reed, can't quite overcome it's very simplistic storyline. Becides the two aforementioned stars watch for Annette O'Toole who had a very small role in the film as a rape victim. Annette spills her heart out at what happened to her to Eli after she found out about his criminal record. And just watch how Eli, at first not knowing just what to say, mindlessly responds to her and ends up putting both his two feet straight into his mouth!

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