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Jesse V. Johnson
Raymond J. Barry,
North Carolina 1863, the Civil War is raging. In this inspired story of tragedy and love we follow the lives of Melody, a precocious seven-year old, and her young mother Sarah as they struggle on their farm to survive during the Civil War.
A beautiful young woman Hayden is framed for the murder of her wealthy husband Frank. With all the evidence stacked against her, Detective Sloan arrests her and Hayden finds herself in the fight of her life as she tries to uncover the truth. Set against the backdrop of a wealthy Midwestern city, LAST WILL tells a story of deception, corruption and misguided family loyalties. Written by
Hayden (Tatum O'Neill), the wife of wealthy doctor Frank Emery (Tom Berenger) discovers that Frank's brothers have been cooking their family's books. Upon exposing them, Frank is murdered. Framed and isolated, Hayden must find out the truth amid a major Midwestern trial.
Channels like Hallmark and Lifetime make these movies often; small, independent, low-budget mysteries with actors of a previous generation. "Last Will" is a similar type of film, exemplifying what can happen when a decent script and a decent budget are combined.
Tatum O'Neill does an able job as the helpless housewife thrust into the mystery of her husband; shocked that an outstanding man like her husband could do something like go to a strip club. You work through the first half hour of the film in a daze as it repeats the characters motives again and again, to try and prevent you from being surprised at twists down the road.
Tom Berenger is one of my favorite actors, but recently it seems like every film he does has the same basic formula of a bit of action, a bit of mystery, a bit of Berenger. He isn't in the film as much as I'd like but he does not bait-and-switch, either. Fans will also welcome the faces of Peter Coyote and James Brolin, heroes of a bygone era whose rugged good looks and solid support make them able additions to the cast.
If it is a cheesy, formulaic, unsurprising mystery you are looking for, "Last Will" does an admirable job at solidifying its place in the daytime cable television slot between the "Family Feud" and the News at Noon. Enjoy.
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