Popular model student Matthew 'Matt' Jannett is likely to get a college scholarship as diver, but the absurd pressure from father, a rigorous cop, is getting to him. When he and his mates decide to go swimming drunk at night, Matt takes off with his girl-friend Rachel Linden when the others strip. Rachel thinks he's in danger after a bad dive, jumps after him but trips, hits her head and drowns. Yet the whole community treats Matt as if he killed her by neglect, he's automatically suspended there's even a police investigation. Rachel's rival Vanessa Canningham now tries to seduce Matt. Rachel's guardian angel Will however coaches her to learn manipulating people so as to organize revenge and save Matt. Written by
This formula plays like a "been there, done that" deal. Teen Angel/Posthumus Revenge is not new to the film industry. But, that doesn't always mean that previous efforts were always the best ones. That's where this little gem comes in.
"Dying To Live," a 1999 Made-for-TV/Cable film, is about a aspiring marine biologist named Rachel Linden (Hayley DuMond) who has the world on a string--a great boyfriend in high school swim team star Matthew Jannett (Gabriel Mann), and a good friend in cute and sassy Leslie Chambers (Linda Cardellini), who has a heart arythmia and says that she could die at any time. Enter Vanessa Cannington (Shannon Elizabeth), Matthew's jealous ex-girlfriend, who wants Matt back, and will stop at nothing. She spikes his punch with a strong tranquilizer at a school dance, and he takes Rachel outside to the pool. He begins to get disoriented, and plunges off the diving board. Rachel, in a valiant attempt to save him, stumbles on a ladder and bangs her head on it. She falls into the pool and drowns. Matt is so disoriented that he cannot speak, let alone save Rachel. He is hospitalized, but later arrested for killing his girlfriend. Rachel then steps out of her dead body at the funeral and wonders why everyone is crying, not realizing she is dead. A mysterious man named Will (Jonathan Frakes), who is a gaurdian angel, informs Rachel that she must expose her killer to the world so she can go to her eternal life. Rachel wants to live, but must rely on a mutual soul (one that both she and Matthew could trust) to expose the truth. Along comes unsuspecting Leslie. Rachel must use Leslie's body to expose the truth, even though it means risking Leslie's fragile condition. Can Rachel accomplish her task?
This movie was truly upsetting, but I really enjoyed it. It didn't try too hard to be overburdening--it didn't need to. It moved at an even pace, and the story was well-written. I only saw this the other night on the Sci-Fi Channel. The only real problem I had with this movie was how long it took for Rachel to begin trying to expose her killer. It took some stretch of time for any action to begin. But, maybe that was a good thing--the action was forthcoming and excellent. I like how Rachel would temporarily "occupy" Leslie's body to get her point across. Linda Cardellini had so much expression on her face, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses and role models. Hayley DuMond put on an excellent performance, and I could certainly relate to her character. If something happened to me that cut me off too soon, I would want to expose the truth behind it. Gabriel Mann, who I only just found out was Freddie Prinze Jr.'s friend Auggie in "Summer Catch," was also excellent as Matthew Jannet, who just wanted to prove to the world that he would never have killed Rachel. It was another so-so performance for Shannon Elizabeth, who aggravated me very much (but that was probably the point--you wanted to hate her). Jonathan Frakes was decent as Will, and who he really is will shock you at the end.
Ok, favorite scenes: The scene where Rachel first occpies Leslie, and when Leslie looks in the mirror, she sees Rachel and backs up. I think Cardellini has great expression, as I've mentioned earlier. I also enjoyed the scene where the teens were having a good time in the pool earlier in the film, the scenes that Rachel tries to get Vanessa exposed, and the pivotal scene where Leslie, as Rachel, finds the evidence in the bleachers. I won't give away much about this, or the end, because that is my absolute favorite part, and I couldn't spoil it for anyone. That's not my reviewing style.
Anyways, long story short, this is a well-done, well-acted, nice telepic. Just some light fare, nothing bad and certainly harmless enough. The stars are great, and I will definitely enjoy the copy I made of this movie the other night. If you get the chance, PLEASE see this film. You will enjoy it, and certainly not regret it!
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