Mena Suvari plays Sandy Murphy, a former stripper mixed up in "Sex and Lies in Sin City," a 2008 TV movie also starring Matthew Modine as Ted Binion and Johnathon Schaech as Rick Tabish, Marcia Gay Harden as Binion's sister Becky and Peter Haskell as Ian Miller.
The film is based on the true story of the death of Vegas casino owner Ted Binion and the subsequent arrest of his girlfriend Sandy and her boyfriend, Rick Tabish. The producers wanted to stick closely to the facts of the case, and they probably did. However, they left out one of the most interesting parts of the case. When Sandy was brought in for trial, she was sitting across, not next to, Rick Tabish, and she gave him a devastating smile that left no doubt as to their relationship. It was picked up by the cameras in the courtroom - it's a shame that moment was left out of this movie.
Ted Binion was a drug addict who smoked heroin and took Xanax, among other things, but he was filthy rich. He meets Murphy in a strip club, and the two become involved. At one point, he has Tabish, a contractor, dig a concrete vault in the desert, where he hid silver bullion amounting to something like $7 million. Eventually Sandy and Tabish become lovers. Tabish was caught raiding the vault after Binion died, and his rare silver coins disappeared from his safe.
The question is, did Binion die of an overdose or was he helped along by Sandy and Tabish? If you're not familiar with the case, I won't give it away. From the beginning of the film, it's played somewhat ambiguously so that the viewer isn't sure.
The acting is strong, particularly from Modine and Hardin. Hardin is very Mercedes McCambridge in this playing a tough-talking, strong woman who is sure Murphy is guilty. Modine as the drug-addicted, paranoid and sometimes violent Binion does an excellent job. Suvari bears a resemblance to the real-life Murphy, though she's younger and fresher. She's good, but not great. The handsome Johnathon Schaech gives her steady support. In real life, with the exception of Murphy, none of the characters were as good-looking as the people who portray them.
Ian Miller, an wealthy old man who takes an interest in helping Sandy, is played by Peter Haskell. He has always been a favorite actor of mine. He looked very old in this movie, but it's always great to see him.
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