Black and Blue (TV Movie 1999) Poster

(1999 TV Movie)

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Excellent performances in a stunning real-life drama
Andreas Niedermayer27 January 2006
Black & Blue is based on a novel by Anna Quindlen, scripted by April Smith (Emmy-Award nominated for her work on the TV series Lou Grant) and directed by Paul Shapiro, who has worked on a number of TV series such as 24, Roswell and Dark Angel.

It is the dramatic tale of Frannie Benedetto (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her flight from her abusive husband Bobby (an outstanding Anthony LaPaglia). Frannie has endured continuous physical and psychological abuse. She is a nurse, her husband is a cop, and theirs is a 10-year-old son, Robert (Will Rothhaar, who earned a Young Artist Award nomination for his performance). Frannie is very loyal to her family and caught in a harrowing dilemma. Bobby is a highly decorated detective, and she knows that cops protect their own. But when an acquaintance of her dies due to fatal blows, Frannie decides to end the nightmare and to protect herself and her son. She secretly contacts an organization that helps battered wives. The scenario she is presented with seems almost as bleak as her current existence. She must erase every trace of her past and sever all links to her family and friends. She takes Robert and flees to a new life in Florida. There she adopts a new identity and lifestyle. She soon encounters school-teacher Mike Riordan (Sam Robards), who is the complete opposite of Bobby and who introduces her to a life of romance and tenderness. But Bobby is already chasing after her by using his investigative skills, and Frannie has to find out that when you are married to a cop, you can run, but you cannot hide.

This is the basic premise. The concept is fairly simple. You have a wife who is forced by her abusive husband to leave everything behind and to start a new life with her son. The psychological implications of the years of continuous suffering have left obvious scars, but these years also provide the source of Frannie's basic strength and determination to start anew. This struggle is wonderfully transformed by Mary Stuart Masterson. She has the ability to portray both the fragility and the courage of her character. Her appearance grants the movie with substantial authenticity. It is her story, of how she finds her strength and what hardships she is willing to endure in order to save herself and Robert.

Bobby Benedetto is an erratic character who demands total obedience. He enjoys his power over his wife and humiliates her frequently. Then again he seems to love his son, and in fact, he never touches him in the course of the story. However, it is the psychological strain inflicted on Robert that makes him an abusive father as well as an abusive husband. Anthony LaPaglia is outstanding in his role. He is rugged and ambivalent, relentless and his ambitions to get what he wants and violent in his means. The scenes when his violent streak erupts are smashing. You do not expect a detective, who ought to belong to the good, to behave that way. He is cold-blooded and deceitful, a tremendously genuine and sinister antagonist who goes to any lengths to get what he wants.

My personal gratitude goes to Will Rothhaar as young Robert. He makes this movie not just good, but perfect. It needs a special kind of young actor to establish a genuine identification with a character, and he has the skills and and the talent to portray the hardships and struggles of Robert's quest to support his mom and to adopt to a new life. Robert is very much in the center of all emotional scenes. He suffers a lot, not just when he has to witness his abusive father, but also when he yearns for his home and his friends once he and Frannie reach Florida. This is exactly what you would expect from a young boy. The way he suspiciously surveys how his soccer teacher Mike Riordan enters into their lives and associates with Frannie is nothing but genuine. He never exaggerates, he is never overdoing things, but rather very much aware of his character's sensibility and the subtle strains that ensue his new life in an unknown community.

Sam Robards as Mike Riordan completes the outstanding quality of the cast. He is the perfect opposite to Bobby. He is gentle and sincere, and this honesty in everything he does makes it perfectly understandable why Frannie eventually falls in love with him. Mike means security and fills the gap in Frannie's doleful life. Robards never pushes and thus avoids his relationship with Frannie to become stereotypical.

The story as a whole is very strong and makes the audience automatically associate with Frannie and Robert. It is not an artificial movie dealing with phony developments, but rather a smashing portrayal of courage and steadfastness, of love and hope. The audience is very much drawn into Frannie's desperate struggle to escape. The story develops naturally towards the final confrontation, thus living up to the premise of classic dramas. Nothing is superficial, the actors are wonderful and the message of the movie is clear and unaffected: Never stop fighting to find happiness.
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a very powerful film
boweryfan3 December 1999
black and blue was a very moving and intense movie. mary stuart masterson proved once again what an excellent actress she is. i loved the story, it has a very realistic feel to it. This is something that goes on all the time. Her husband a cop, beats her constantly, yet she puts up with him. Anthony La Paglia did a very impressive performance. He is also a very talented actor that has not been given a break. I think more movies like this need to be done, to get the word out on domestic violence.
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Promising subject, erratic in quality
Jugu Abraham26 June 2002
The film opens with the lead actress taking a shower. A lyrical sequence of closeups of hands and face, supported by endearing music of Jonathan Goldsmith. You expect great cinema to follow.

Instead the film has to depend on the strength of the subject alone: domestic violence. Masterson has a good presence but she is not a great actress. Nor is Shapiro a great director as he cannot connect the grand opening sequence with the rest of the film. His film meanders to the level of commercial cinema that depends on the good winning over evil. The end involving the son and aunt is not developed intelligently.

Apart from Goldsmith's music, I will applaud the performance of Robert played by Will Rothaar--a very convincing performance. The rest is "Sleeping with the Enemy" retold for TV.
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Great Movie
universalcritics27 June 2002
Black and Blue was a realistic and well executed movie. The actors all portrayed their characters beautifully. The movie depicted both Robert's perspective as well as his mother's truthfully. I could feel Robert's inner conflict, loving his father yet on the other hand despising him for beating his mother. Wanting to protect his mother from his father, yet not wanting to leave the comforts of home. Although this movie is realistic, I think Frannie was lucky to meet so many nice people in Florida, while under the witness protection. I enjoyed this movie because it depicted real life and Frannie was able to surmount her obstacles. The only part that was unclear was what happened to Robert, and why it took him so long to realize that his father wasn't perfect.
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Excellent Movie!
BreanneB14 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I thought this movie was excellent. Great acting, costumes, production, directing, script, and storyline plot. Anthoney Lepaglia, was especially good. I think he portrayed the role of a batterer very well. Everyone deserves Two Thumbs Way Up! They all also deserve 10 out of 10 stars.

After years of being battered by her abusive husband Bobby Benedetta, Fran Benedetta and her son Robert Benedetta flee to Miami Florida without telling anyone, not even family, where they are going. In Miami Fran and Robert meet a man named Mike Riordan with whom they become close with. However, when everything starts to get back to normal for them Bobby tracks them down and beats Fran and kidnaps Robert. However, in the end after marrying Mike and having a daughter Robert gets reunited with his mother and Mike.
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The Ultimate Movie Review! -
Tss507820 April 2012
Based on a novel by acclaimed writer, Anna Quindlen, Black & Blue is the story of a woman who risks everything to get her family away from her abusive husband. There's a problem though, he husband is a New York City Detective, who will stop at nothing to find them. This was originally a made for TV film, but unlike most, the producers didn't tone it down for the small screen. This movie is a terrific example of what it's like to suffer from the horrors of domestic abuse. Mary Stuart Masterson is nothing short of brilliant, in a role that should have made her career. I'd go as far to say that it is the single best performance I've ever seen in a made for TV movie. Young Will Rothhaar was also great, leading to bigger and better roles in the future. This film was more than just entertaining, but important for every person in a similar situation to see and learn from.
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A great story about the grim truth of domestic violence
ichocolat16 October 2010
This is a great film, based upon a simple premise, albeit one we assume we understood when in fact we knew little about, and which most of us just couldn't care less.

The underlying premise is about domestic violence. About how dangerous it can be, about the physical and emotional impact on the victims. Yet, most of us seems to think of it as a small matter, and to ridicule the issue and belittle others who claimed to be victims of it.

The casting is very good, especially LaPaglia (who also stars in a TV series called 'Without a Trace'). And Rothraar is a darling, he embraces the character very well, worthy of a nomination in the awards.

The combination of great casting and the story premise equals a very good film. I personally recommends the film for others, especially to those who wants to know more about the issue.
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How To Know If Your Husband Is Abusive
wilsonandrewc25 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes abuse is obvious, but other times it's not so clear-cut. And recognizing it can be hardest for the person who's being abused.

To complete this How-To you will need:

An honest evaluation of your marriage

Step 1: If your husband has ever laid a hand on you, even if it was just once, there's no need to try to make your marriage work: You are being abused, and you need to file for divorce.

Tip: Physical abuse often starts in little ways -- a shove here, a squeeze there -- and then escalates.

Step 2: Don't discount emotional abuse. Does he regularly put you down? That's abuse, too -- even if he says he's just kidding.

Step 3: Think about the influence he has over your life. Does he try to control which friends and family members you see, how you dress, or how you spend your time without him? Many abusers are controlling.

Step 4: Consider how he makes you feel. Are you anxious much of the time? Are you getting more headaches and stomachaches? Do you worry about disappointing him or making him angry? Even if he's never physically hurt you, do you feel like he could some day?

Step 5: Think about his other relationships before you married him. Does he get into a lot of fights? Have any of his ex-girlfriends claimed he abused them? Does he have a bad temper? Is he manipulative? Tip: If family, friends, or even acquaintances are cautioning you about him, take their warnings seriously.

Step 6: Don't blow off threats he's made to harm you -- even if they were said in the heat of an argument, or in a jokey "this is what will happen to you if you ever divorce me" kind of way.

Step 7: Consider if your marriage fits the cycle of abuse: an explosive outburst followed by a "honeymoon phase," where he begs forgiveness and acts like the perfect husband, followed by a "tension phase," where you're walking on eggshells waiting for the next blowup.

Step 8: If you have any doubts about whether you're a victim of domestic violence, talk to someone who can give you an unbiased opinion.

Tip: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help. Visit and

Step 9: Do whatever it takes to get away from the abuser -- and stay away.
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I love you so much baby sometimes it makes me go crazy!
sol121813 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
(Some Spoilers) We get to see right away that Frannie Bennedetto, Mary Stuart Masterson, has gone through some real hard times in her life. That's by counting the black and blue marks on her body as we see her taking a shower. It's then that were introduced to who's responsible for putting them there Frannie's husband NYPD Detective Bobby "B" short for Bennedetto, Anthony Lapeglia. The Teddy Bear like but manic depressive Bobby claims all throughout the film that he beats his wife Frannie because it's his way of showing her that he loves her!

At the retirement party of Bobby's good friend and police partner Tommy Walsh, Beau Starr, Bobby loses it when Frannie gets a bit to close, by innocently kissing him on the head, with Tommy. That soon leads to a violent explosion on the way driving home. Accusing Frannie of embarrassing him in front of his friends Bobby zooms at speeds of almost 100 MPH, on a 35 MPH speed zone, and almost ends up crashing his car into a oil pump! Of course being a detective in the NYPD gives Bobby the right to do anything he wants in not only where he gets away with speeding but also using his wife's skull for batting practice whenever he feels like taking a few swing at it.

This abuse goes on without a stop until Frannie together with her and Bobby's 8 year old son Robert, Will Rothhaam, check out of the Bennedtto house and into a witness, or wife abuse, protection program arraigned by Frannie's good friend Patty Bancroft, Allegina Fulton. Now calling herself Beth Crenshaw Frannie starts a new life for herself in the state of Florida together with her son Robert. Bobby feeling betrayed in Frannie not appreciating his love, in him beating her black and blue, and worst of all having his son Robert kidnapped from him is now more determined then ever to find Frannie and pay her back, with his fists, for everything that she did to him!

Excellent made for TV movie about an abused wife and how helpless she is in preventing her brutish cop husband from working her over in the fact that no one is willing to believe her. You get to feel like Frannie does that no matter where she goes her husband Bobby will find her and sooner or later end up not just beating her into a pulp but eventually ending up killing her! It was Robert's teacher and soccer coach in Florida Mike Riordan, Sam Robards, who did in fact bring some hope and stability back into his and his moms Frannie's life. Still there was a lot of beatings and broken bones to come Frannie's way when her estranged husband Bobby tracked her down in the Sunshine Sate and not only, for the up-teeth time, brutally worked her over but ended up forcibly taking Robert away from her.

***SPOILERS*** The movie did in fact end on a positive note with Frannie, now five years later, married to Mike and having a child, a little girl, with him but the bruises like memories, as we saw at the beginning of the movie, of her abusive life with her former "loving" husband Bobby Bennedeto are still with her! But so is Robert, now 14, who gets in touch by phone with his mom in Florida through her sister Gracie( Sabrina Grdevich), who's face was almost slashed by one of Bobby's goons, whom he ran into in the old neighborhood back in NYC.
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