Janet Tarr works as a prison psychologist for potential parolees, and she finds herself drawn to the intelligence and raw beauty of Robert Moss, an inmate convicted of a bank robbery. Eventually able to help facilitate his parole, she and Moss begin a heated affair. But he struggles to adjust to life “on the outside,” and is soon up to his old tricks, committing robbery – but this time he’s added murder to his repertoire. Will Janet turn in her dangerous lover before she becomes his next victim?
Before I even commence my review, permit me to say that this is not an easy movie to find. I spent countless hours searching for a DVD I could play on my machine. It is easier to find this movie in other countries (go figure), but my search was finally successful. I had the privilege of watching this film (which is known by two different names). It is a Lifetime Movie, but for whatever reason, Lifetime does not run it on their movie network like so many others of Sebastian Spence’s films. And I have no earthly idea why, but that is not the purpose of this review.
From the opening scenes of this film, the casual observer may think that this is standard Lifetime movie fare. A single mother (played expertly by Julie Warner) is working to decide whether Robert Moss (Sebastian Spence) is ready for parole. So in some ways, yes, it is comparable. Those familiar with Sebastian’s work may think of Criminal Intent or Obsession. However, that is essentially where the similarity ends.
I had never seen Julie Warner in anything else–I know I probably should have, but as I have said before, I am far behind the times when it comes to television and movies. I was impressed with her talent, beauty, and overall charisma in this film. The ending is never in doubt (no spoilers but I only speak the truth), and Julie plays the part of the misguided but smitten prison psychologist to a fault. It is rather nail-biting at times to watch her make decisions that we as the audience know are mistakes, and there are times when I found myself wondering if she deserved a happy ending. But then again, what woman has not made errors in judgment when it comes to men? While I will not divulge the ending, I have to say my heart went out to her character, and the conclusion was as it should be.
For me, it was Sebastian’s character, Robert Moss, that made this movie the absolute masterpiece it is. And I don’t use that word glibly in any sense. If you have followed my movie reviews at all, dear reader, for the past few months, you will know that I give glowing reviews of my dear friend Sebastian’s work. However, please note that though somewhat biased they might be, I do my utmost to ensure that I remain as impartial as I can. Yes, easier said than done, but I am invariably ready for a challenge.
At the outset of the film, there were a few moments in which I caught a glimpse of the Sebastian I know, but they were fleeting. That was the last time I found Robert Moss agreeable. There were a couple of violent scenes that were difficult to view and seemed rather unjust, but I believe the addition of these scenes made the movie appear more realistic. While I strove to believe his character, its wasn’t long before I knew precisely what he was.
Now I had seen Sebastian take on other “bad guy” roles before and quite masterfully. The ones I mentioned previously are certainly not the typical, nice guy roles. However, this one takes “bad guy” to a new level. It is difficult to look at Sebastian the man and think that he could be a psychotic killer. And he couldn’t be (Okay, so maybe all of us could be if…). But within him is an actor who can tackle any role you give him. And tackle this one he does–superlatively I might add.
I think the thing that fascinate me the most was the way Robert changed throughout the movie. In the beginning, we see the misunderstood convict–think Jean Valjean in Les Miserables (even referenced in the film). As the story line escalates and the love between Janet and Robert blossoms, he transforms into a more confident man, and for a time it seems that he might get his life on the straight and narrow path. The ultimate revision is unquestionably frightening. I was interrupted at a very suspenseful moment with a “cat emergency” in the house–the joys of watching films at home. Honestly, I was so engrossed in the film I had to quickly make the jump back to reality–not easy to do.
Once I returned to the film, I was as immersed in watching the movie as Sebastian himself was immersed in his role. By the end of the movie, I was petrified of his character–that doesn’t happen to me very often in movies. My adrenaline was pumping through my veins so fast I had to remind myself that Robert Moss and Sebastian Spence were not one in the same. One of the few times when the reality of a film was so true to life I struggled to separate the actor from the character portrayal. It was also a dark, stormy night after midnight–not the best time to watch a film like this.
For my sensitive readers, there is some moderate violence, bedroom scenes, and a few uses of profanity. If you are accustomed to Lifetime movies, there will be no surprises on this point.
In conclusion, if you are ever able to see this film for yourself, I think you may agree with me that this is a diamond role for Sebastian in which his character portrayal is absolutely spot on. I hope one day that Lifetime will make the movie readily available as this is one in which he plays someone so diametrically opposite to whom he is–it is phenomenal. The paltry words of this reviewer could not begin to do justice to Sebastian’s sensational abilities as exhibited in this film. I am not certain this is my favorite of his films, but it certainly is at or near the top.
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