It may have been helpful if the screenplay addressed some of the underlying issues: was this based on a true story?. If it was based on truth, all the more reason anyone with a problem child may want to watch this movie.
Mel Harris (of "Thirty Something" fame) does very well, portraying a harried mother, whose husband has committed suicide, now on her second marriage, and having difficulty with her rebellious daughter, Nicholle Tom.
In an incident after slapping her mother, Nicholle Tom is arrested, and Mel Harris assumes she may get her daughter out of jail the next day. Not so. The daughter ends up in the labyrinthine juvenile system- we see the failure of Legal Aid, the juvenile detention red tape and state workers with their own agenda. One social worker with a private vendetta is well portrayed by Mary Mara, as "Marcy" who accuses Nicholle Tom of being suicidal and dangerous, neither of which is true.
This film addresses some of the social issues which are prevalent today. Judgmental social workers, an inflexible legal system, and parenting in general are realistically addressed.
Anyone who is interested in these issues may want to watch "White Oleander", an excellent novel by Janet Fitch and movie starring Michele Pfeiffer and Allison Lohman.
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