The "true story" of John Smith and his disappearing wives, and how the perseverance of the daughter and sister of his second wife Fran finally brought the story together and broke at least a part of the case.
After Fran Smith disappears one day in mysterious circumstances, Fran's daughter Deanna and Fran's sister, Sherrie endlessly search for her with enduring hope. The most likely suspect in Fran's disappearance is her husband John, but without a body, neither Deanna or Sherrie can prove that murder, much less a crime, has even been committed. With the support of Sherrie, Deanna embarks on an eleven-year search to trace John's past, eventually uncovering a 25 year-old case of a missing person that involved John's first wife, who too, disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Using this lead, Deanna and Sherrie must use all their evidence to bring John to justice. Written by
Lifetime seriously hyped this movie for weeks prior to its premier. I persuaded myself that this thriller would be more than the patented, formulaic flick that is standard for a Lifetime thriller. And there have been excellent thrillers on this channel: Ladies Night is a good, if rare, example, and features a first rate performance by Paul Michael Glaser. Alas, my hopes were dashed. This film, about a sociopathic murderer of a succession of wives, lacks dynamics, tension and narrative flow. It is the visual equivalent of an essay outlining this (based-on-a-true) story. What we get is flat story telling, with no depth or energy.
At the core of the film's many flaws is Adam Arkin's comatose performance as the sociopath. The character is described as lacking in conscience and emotion. He apparently suffers from a kind of Asperger's Syndrome, unable to experience or understand others' inner life. The character is thus without depth, a bit lifeless and, as is acknowledged in the film, therefore plain boring. But an actor playing a flat, shallow and boring character must not give a flat, shallow and boring performance. And there lies the challenge to the actor. Arkin sinks to the challenge. There is virtually no variation in his facial expressions, and he is vocally monotonous. Every actor knows that playing an intensely bad or evil character can be fun. Classic examples are Al Lettieri in the original The Getaway, and Christopher Plummer in The Silent Partner. You can't take your eyes off those villains. A serious baddie can be given both nuance and depth and texture by a skilled actor. Arkin seems to lack the chops of a good actor, and his performance is accordingly as dull as dishwater.
In all fairness, I must admit that I have found all of Arkin's work similarly bland, energyless and lacking in range.
This pic was a huge disappointment.
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