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Within These Walls (2001)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  20 August 2001 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 206 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 2 critic

Imprisoned after a drug arrest and bitter from a life marred by tragedy, Joan Thomas wants nothing to do with the world around her. But when a nun with a tragic past invites Joan to ... See full summary »

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Title: Within These Walls (TV Movie 2001)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Joan Thomas
...
Sister Pauline Quinn
...
Melinda Donovan (as Latanya Richardson)
Maria Herrera ...
Leda Cervantes
...
Eliza
Lynne Adams
...
Kelly
...
Emily
Eve Crawford ...
Sister Katherine
...
Eliza's Mother
...
Tito
Alison Darcy ...
Miranda
Danette Mackay ...
Emily's Mother (as Danette MacKay)
Tim Progosh ...
Emily's Father
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Storyline

Imprisoned after a drug arrest and bitter from a life marred by tragedy, Joan Thomas wants nothing to do with the world around her. But when a nun with a tragic past invites Joan to participate in an inmate rehabilitation program-training dogs to care for the handicapped-she experiences the freeing power of unconditional love for the first time. Based on the story of Sister Pauline Quinn. Written by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Hope lives in unlikely places.

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

20 August 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La dernière chance  »

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User Reviews

Enjoyable TV-movie
21 November 2001 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Within These Walls was a good way to spend 2 hours. It is one of the better made-for-TV movies I have seen in a long time. Although it may not be true to the facts, I did find it to be uplifting and encouraging. The idea of inmates training dogs was not new to me, but seeing it brought to life was cool. I am glad to know that some inmates out there are finding new purpose, dogs are being saved and handicapped people are getting helped (even if it is only a few).

Joan is a hardened, emotionless criminal. Most of the other prisoners seem to be afraid of her and just leave her alone. Sister Pauline is a nun with a complicated past who wants to get a program started at the womens' prison where the inmates will train dogs for the handicapped. She believes it is a win-win-win situation. It takes a little work to convince the warden, but eventually she, as well as the female guard responsible for supervising the project, are fully on board. A lot of human drama among Sister Pauline and the women training the dogs takes place, as well. We quickly see many little ways in which the activity is changing all their lives.

All that said, Ellen Burstyn is, as she always is, the glue that holds this piece together. The woman can act! She can play anything. This time, uncharacteristically, she is playing a rather unpleasant and unlikable (at least initially) character, Joan Thomas. Ms. Burstyn is aided nicely by Laura Dern (as Sister Pauline), never one of my particular favorites, but effective here. The actresses playing the guard, warden, and the other two dog-training prisoners are also quite capable.

I like the way that we get to find out bits and pieces at a time about Joan's and Pauline's pasts and why they are the way they are. We aren't just smacked over the head with it constantly. The filmmakers did a nice job of interspersing the dog training scenes with the scenes of interaction among the women. I felt like I was going through the emotional highs and lows with them. Ellen Burstyn has an uncanny ability to rip my heart out just by the look in her eyes, and she does it again in Within These Walls.

Overall, it gets a B+ from me.


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