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|Index||11 reviews in total|
This made for TV movie was interesting to watch but is so deeply flawed
that I had to down-rate it severely. The first jarring note which
remained an annoyance was the fatal choice of filming location. The
movie takes place in fictional "Mesadale, Utah" a thinly disguised
reference to the state line straddling Polygamist Mormon fundamentalist
twin towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona. As anyone who
has visited the vast region of the Southwest settled by Mormons can
attest, it is arid with few trees. The 19th Wife was shot in Canada and
features lush green forested landscape, whereas the real
Mesadale/Hildale is brown and desert like.
The forbidding physical environment is an essential factor in Mormon existence. They were able to flourish over such a large area because the land was so harsh and undesirable. They had been driven out of all the nice places and found their refuge in areas other settlers didn't want or weren't willing to fight over. The isolation and clannishness is a key to understanding how such a bizarre and unbelievable belief system could flourish, so setting is vital to the story. A realistic bleak location would have highlighted the bleak, isolated lives of the sect members. Yes I know about the offshoot community in British Columbia, but that's another story.
The acting is the saving grace of this movie. The key players were able to establish and maintain believability and generally succeeded in showing the range of faith from the literal true believers through those who go along but have some reservations to those who reject the nonsense entirely. Chyler Leigh's performance was too much actor and too little character but Matt Czuchry, Patricia Wettig, and most of the others apparently studied their roles and did journeyman work. The glaring exception was the actress who played the teenage runaway working in a coffee shop. She is engaging and charming but blows the role or was misdirected. She could have been a kid from just about any suburb in America but not from an isolated fundamentalist polygamous community especially one who left only a month previous to her appearance in the story.
The final failure was the surprise ending. On reflection it didn't make much sense. The polygamist sect depicted is run as a patriarchy by the "Prophet." Loyalty is rewarded, disobedience is punished, and rivals are eliminated. In that context there was something lacking. I expect the book upon which this movie is based provided enough plot development to make the ending plausible if not inevitable. The movie did not: maybe it was lost on the cutting room floor or they left it up in Canada.
If you are fascinated by the topic, The 19th Wife is an entertaining way to spend a couple hours but I don't think low quality movie making like this should be encouraged.
A reviewer claimed details were invented for dramatic effect. Actually,
abuse and terror are common in the most secretive clans.
Self-proclaimed "prophets" assign who will marry, reassign
"disobedient" men's wives and children to others, and claim dead men's
wives and children. The threat of eternal and earthly retribution for
disobedience was recorded by Joseph Smith in Section 132 of Doctrine
and Covenants when he acknowledged "plural marriage," the bigamy he and
his elders had secretly practiced for years. Even Ann Eliza Young's
history is accurate.
With 30,000 to 50,000 polygamists scattered throughout the western U.S., many live in picturesque settings. St. George, UT, boasts resorts, agriculture, and mountain forests.
Jordan's sexual orientation wasn't changed for politics, as indicated by an article. Parameters are looser for novels than movies. Jordan's lifestyle would demand time to explain FLDS disapproval of gays and lesbians isn't about morality but the belief that men need at least three wives and numerous children to reach the highest level of heaven.
Viewers can learn about strict polygamous communities from "The 19th Wife."
Just a follow up to some of the other reviews. Location: there is a sect here in Canada and as others have said, the location/surroundings are incidental to the plot. The sect in Canada has been the subject of repeated investigations and even prosecutions, not to mention a coup. Hairstyles: the stylist got it spot on, that is exactly how the wives are required to wear their hair. The clothing was also correct. I am guessing the reviewers complaining about the hairstyles are not familiar with this religion. Where I live there are other religions that also have similar dress requirements though they are not polygamous, Amish, Mennonite.
I make a point of avoiding these "made for TV" films as this one clearly is. But every now and again I pander to the wife's (singular ;)) film taste. This one had a good rating on here, so I thought I would give it a go. I'm so pleased I did, one of the better films I have seen lately. So despite other reviews that complain about the location "Hello, 99.99% of people viewing this will not be experts on where these communities thrive in the US" and care not if there may be one too many trees for this to be feasible to you (I don't recall noticing a tree at all, I was busy watching the film). The first thing I noticed was this strange hairdo all the women seemed to don, which gave a sense of submission to a controlling ethics, so far from detracting or being weird actually added to the essence of the situation...what are these people moaning about ??? too many trees, strange hair...come on people! Anyway, The story is compelling I found myself getting really annoyed that these people really exists and these poor women accept that treatment from men and furthermore from a "Prophet". The Acting was superb from all concerned, the direction/editing was sufficient so that You knew exactly who was who, and carried the story along at a comfortable pace, although the ending did seem a little pow! there you go ! jobs done after a very pleasing unwinding development of all other aspects, maybe it could have been more stretched as to "getting just done to the right person, it all seemed a bit easy, and quick, I would have liked to have built up real hatred or sympathy to the person one way or another (you'll know what I mean when you see it). other than that, a huge pat on the back for all concerned.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The acting was surprisingly good except for the character Five. She was
so obnoxious and her character was unbelievable that she portrayed a
girl raised in a sheltered society. The story itself was interesting
and entertaining but here are some problems I had with it:
-It showed Queenie serving their Prophet tea in one of the scenes. Trivial I know but if you know anything about Mormon culture including Mormon breakaway cults like this one it is against their religion to drink tea.
-Along those same lines I found it unrealistic that the character Five would work in a coffee shop one month after she ran away from the sheltered cult because again it is against their religion to drink coffee.
-I found it strange that the members of the cult were dressed so plain and "old time" you might say and their prophet was all decked out and drove a fancy car and had body guards. I found this unrealistic that he would portray himself to appear so "worldly".
-It was definitely not filmed in Utah. Anyone who has been to Utah knows that Utah is not that green. And most of the polygamous cults in Utah live in the more desert areas so they can be away from society.
-Also I found it odd that they never explained why Beckylyn had blood on her shirt in the opening scenes when she wasn't the one who did it.
-I also found the love interest between Queenie and Jordan strange because they made it seem like their might be a connection their but then nothing ever panned out. I just wonder why they included that at all if there were going to leave it completely unresolved. Especially considering since in the book Jordan is portrayed as a homosexual. I also found it unrealistic that Queenie and Jordan would be so affectionate towards one another (in one scene she is kind of snuggling with him by a river) and that she would be so free to spend time with him in a extremely conservative and controlling cult.
-I also found it strange that the code from the Dad's journal that contained all these references to cult terms could be deciphered by a non cult member mistress.
-The ending was unrealistic to me as well. I do not think that it would be safe for Beckylyn to return to the cult considering everything that happened throughout the movie. Especially since it appears she is returning to her sister wives where in the movie the Prophet says he will marry all of the sister wives who were widowed by the murder. The prophet appears very dangerous and made murderous threats throughout the movie so why would it be safe for Beckylyn to go back to that community and possibly be his wife? Especially when you consider her role and knowledge throughout the movie.
It's a good thing that no one pays extra for Lifetime to be included in
their cable-channel bundle (do they?) because this film was a complete
waste of time -- it was 87 minutes that I'll never get back, and I'm
not happy about it.
This adaptation of a novel ignored one key aspect of its source material: the sexual orientation of Jordan, the Matt Czuchry character. Although the adaptation did not completely disrespect the novel by, say, having Jordan as a love interest for his old friend, Queenie, I think it would have added something significant to the story to have this woven into the narrative.
Even ignoring the mismatch between novel and film on that dimension, other key elements of the story are just barely credible. How many times does Hiram tell his wife Queenie to mind her own business and stay away from Jordan, only for her to show up quite openly in the very next scene with Jordan, definitely not minding her own business? And who else thought it was completely unrealistic that a 16-year-old girl (Five) with no access to the outside world would, over the span of just a month, run away to Vegas, then come back to a nearby town (well, 50 miles away) and work in a coffee shop, periodically sneaking back to Mesadale to visit her mother?
I guess it was a coup for Lifetime to get Czuchry before "The Good Wife" became popular, but no amount of his charm and acting skill can save this.
BeckyLyn (Patricia Wettig) is arrested for killing her husband Sawyer
Scott. She's his 19th wife in a Mormon sect. Queenie (Chyler Leigh)
doesn't believe the charge and asks BeckyLyn's son Jordan Scott (Matt
Czuchry) to return to Mesadale. He was exiled as a boy for touching
Queenie's arm. The Prophet pushes her sheriff husband Hiram to get a
confession to avoid a lengthy trial. The defense lawyer pushes her to
accept a deal but she claims to be innocent. Jordan encounters Sarah
'Five' (Alexia Fast) daughter of the 23rd wife on the outside who is
trying to get her mother out. Meanwhile, Queenie is secretly reading a
book about Brigham Young's 19th wife.
I like the portrayal of the polygamist world. The murder mystery needs to be heightened. The style skews too much to a Lifetime TV movie. It needs to be done in an intense dramatic way. The acting is solid. The flashbacks to Brigham Young are unnecessary unless this is an advocacy piece. That's what this feels like to some extend. It would be more compelling if this is adapted to be a more exciting thriller.
This was pretty good, an interesting story surrounding a polygamist
wife (the 19th) who is accused of murdering her husband. With a life
sentence looming her excommunicated son returns and enlists the help of
another sect wife (and former flame) in the hopes of exposing the real
There is decent acting from everyone involved here which saves this made for TV movie to a degree as there were also lots of holes I chose to ignore. I particularly enjoyed (Matt Czuchry) as Jordon and also (Chyler Leigh) who played Queenie. They had genuine chemistry together even if it did seem a bit unrealistic that Queenie's husband would allow them to spend so much time together alone. They were continually meeting up and acting all flirty.
Patricia Wettig plays the accused wife and does a decent job, its not much of a role, she's in prison and spouting religious scripture for the most part, the haircutting scene was intense. There are also several re-enacted scenes that flip back in time to the 1900's as Queenie reads a (banned book) about another wife who questioned the religion and was treated very badly by her older husband.
A bit of a twist at the end I didn't see coming but honestly what an impossible situation the prophet cult leaders placed "that person" in. So backwards.
This has been based on a bestselling book and Calgary Alberta plays Utah 3/4/15
Having not read the book, I watched this to see Matt Czuchry from The
Good Wife. Unfortunately, he doesn't play a man with many wives but one
who was exiled as a teenager from the polygamist sect. He returns to
the town he hated because his mother is on trial for his father's
murder and to see his lost love Queenie, who is now married to someone
else. Apparently in the book, his character is gay, but the only thing
this movie has going for it is the romance/chemistry of the two leads,
so I can see why it was changed.
The worst part of this movie is by far the editing, the hair stylist (why does it have to be PUFFY???), the location scout (ARIZONA???). But if you want an excuse to watch "Cary Agos" wear a leather jacket, drive a truck, get beaten up and give lots of smoldering glances, it is definitely worth your two hours.
The acting isn't terrible and that's about the only thing you can say.
If you read the book, you'll hate this movie as they've gutted it (and not just the "heterosexualization" of Jordan). If you liked BIG LOVE, pass this one by- it's nothing like it. If by some odd chance you read Ann Eliza Young's book (or Irving Wallace's about her) you'll hate this movie as it not only gets everything wrong but takes less than 10 minutes and that in blips. Most of the scenes in the movie last on average about 30 seconds each and there are many plot holes, some from the book and some that the movie cooked up.
Just to correct a couple of historical errors: Ann Eliza Webb was NOT an adult when her father brought home his first plural wife but a baby so young she grew up in a polygamous family and had no memory of a life before it. She and Brigham Young had no children together- she had two sons with a first husband (omitted from the movie) and he had a few dozen with other women. Dramatic as it may seem, she did not flee from an angry mob- she checked into a hotel, gave constant interviews, and when she left town it was on a train and she sued him for a ton of alimony (unsuccessfully as their marriage was not legally recognized). That's an impressive number of errors considering the Ann Eliza story lasted all of about 5 minutes in this movie and could/should have been dropped altogether. (Her melodramatic ghost written tell-none is far from likely to inspire anybody in the modern era; even Ebershoff completely rewrote it and making her family far less interesting as he did so). This movie is basically a waste. I hope that most of the money went to Patricia Wettig's salary as she was by far the best thing in it. I read and did not like the book (too much purple prose and too much historical inaccuracy and too much clearly vanity driven inclusions with the murder mystery, which should have been the focus, taking up maybe 5% of the book's text). Compared to the movie, the book is a masterpiece. Not good, not so-bad-it's-good, just all around mediocre with a heaping side dish of "yeah right", followed by a yawn.
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