Pauline Mitchell is a successful business woman, but when she starts misplacing things, loses track of time and doesn’t recognize her husband, Aaron; Pauline fears that she has inherited Alzheimer’s, the disease that killed her mother. However, she discovers that her husband and her secretary have conspired to make her think she’s losing her mind so that they can take control of her company. Pauline must fight back, desperate to prove her sanity to the police, her doctor – even herself.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: As with any film or show I review, I do my utmost to offer spoiler-free commentary, but sometimes that is almost impossible. In this film’s case, ever the trailer contains plenty of spoilers. As this follows a rather typical Lifetime movie format, the basic story is simple to decipher. Notwithstanding, there are enough plot twists to keep your attention. Additionally, in customary Lifetime fashion, there is some mild profanity and a shadowy bedroom scene, but neither of these elements put a damper on my enjoyment of the story. I will attempt to review this suspenseful film without giving away too many details, but just know that I cannot promise to not spoil the movie for you.
As with the majority of Lifetime and Hallmark network films, there are numerous recognizable faces who share the screen with the main stars. It is impossible for me to evaluate all the admirable performances of each one, but there is no doubt that Susan Slome is a standout. While she has made her share of guest star appearances in several well-known shows, this is the first time I have ever seen her. She has a signature look, and those distinctive features are what initially captured my attention. Oh sure, she can act just as well as any actor–in fact, in the role of Deanna, she is dexterous at never betraying where her true allegiance lies until we almost reach the end of the film. I thought I knew from the beginning (and I actually was right), but she so faultlessly portrays Pauline’s sister that she receives my unofficial award for keeping everyone in suspense and second-guessing themselves. Not that the other actors are inadequate–not in the least as this review will denote. But Susan just has that knack of playing this unassuming but essential role to a tee. I would also tip my hat to the writers as they wrote her a genuinely beguiling part. All too often, Lifetime films are so grave that humor is virtually nonexistent. Thank goodness for actresses like Susan who can inject just the right amount of believable humor at the precise moments where it is needed. I hope that the networks realize what a gem this lady is and give her even more choice roles in the future.
I refuse to spoil this particular scene, but I did want to at least mention the superb actor who appears in this scene with Rick (whom I’ll discuss later). I had never seen James in anything else, but his character is a peerless oppositional force for Rick’s character. It indisputably takes a strong actor who can play opposite Rick as his intense presence permeates every role he characterizes. Don’t underestimate the significance of this character as he may be more important to the overall story than you may think.
Of course, Lifetime films must have a cunning, seductive woman, and Melissa plays this role to perfection. While this is the first time I have ever seen this actress in anything, I was entirely impressed. She completely embraces every aspect of her character, and she is exhaustively authentic in every scene. Whenever Melissa is on-screen with Rick, it is her character that asserts herself to the extreme. In fact, Aaron appears weak and spineless whenever Elizabeth is anywhere in his proximity. It is obvious that she is the “brains” of the operation, and whenever Aaron seems to waffle, it is Elizabeth that yanks him back. While the chemistry between these two is hot and heavy at times, the desired effect is achieved–the viewers do not want these two characters joined together in any sense of the word. Additionally, evil seems to just drip from Elizabeth’s eyes, arms, fingers, mouth, and any other extremity. Can an actress represent her character too well? Never! She has done the impossible–made Rick’s character look like a puppy dog on a leash. All she dangles in front of him is money and sex, and he becomes putty in her hands. I think Lifetime would do quite well to invite this talented lady back for many more films as she has mastered the art of the malevolent temptress control freak in every sense of the word.
As the sweet, intelligent, but baffled Pauline, Alicia gives a positively stunning performance. Again, this actress is new to me, but many will know her from her impressive resume. For me, I was smitten with this actress from the beginning. She is able to depict the successful wife who prides herself on having her life together and running in perfect order. Alicia’s portrayal of Pauline is trusting, alluring, and at times, quite heartbreaking. Since Alzheimer’s and/or dementia is something that has touched my family, I was drawn to this character in a unique way. On more than one occasion, I considered what I would have done in Pauline’s position, and this made me connect with Alicia’s characterization even more.
As the story begins to unfold, I was horrified to see the situation into which Pauline finds herself. As the action commences its ascent, Alicia continued to tug on my heartstrings and cause my pulse to quicken. On more than one occasion, I wanted to grab Pauline by the shoulders and shake her until she saw the light. But I realize that I was feeling exactly what the writers (and Alicia) aspired for me to feel. Without reservation, Alicia has mastered the technique of being darling and even submissive while concealing her own schemes and incertitude. After all, Pauline is not as foolish as one might assume. Her one weakness is that she loves her husband, and since he has never given her cause to mistrust him, she finds herself in danger.
Alicia’s scenes with Rick are eerily enchanting. I mean why would Aaron go hunting for a replacement when he has a beautiful and accomplished woman in his arms each night? And during her humiliating moments, he seems to have all the proper words and actions to make her feel better.
Chemistry between Rick and Pauline? I sincerely don’t think any of Rick’s on-screen love affairs go sour (unless the story dictates it). There is a vulnerability in the way they interact. Even Rick’s character can’t deny that he is still attracted to his wife and sometimes wonders if he should draw back from the evil Elizabeth. In fact, it is Pauline’s appeal and attention that could easily be Aaron’s undoing if he allowed it.
Of course, Rick is the reason I decided to watch this film. Oftentimes, I am used to seeing Rick as a supporting character, but this one put him in a role of which he is worthy–the leading man. While I know he has other starring roles, this was the first I had seen. While I am a bit “late” in discovering Rick’s riveting talent, I have found that his films never fail to dazzle me.
As Aaron, Rick gives the solid performance that we can always anticipate from him. And I was appalled to encounter scathing reviews where he was chastised for doing just that–performing consistently. As far as I’m concerned, I appreciate an actor who can always give a credible, heartfelt, powerhouse, dependable performance, and with Rick, I have no doubt that I will always get just that. Whenever he is on-screen, he is the consummate professional, and one never has misgivings that he may not have immersed himself completely in the role.
In this film, I don’t believe I can even fault the film in revealing Aaron’s true colors too soon. As has become the standard at Lifetime, they tend to reveal their hand a bit sooner than I would like, but this film definitely gets it right. I know Rick is often typecast as a villain, so I fully expected what his character gave. However, I can say that I held out hope for awhile that the doting husband we see was more than just an act to entrap Pauline (and the viewers). Because Rick does bad so well, he can also play the scoundrel who pretends to be virtuous but really is sinister. Again, we see his expertise in this role, and even though I wanted to thrash his character to a bloody pulp at times, I never questioned his portrayal.
As I stated earlier, Rick also gives his character the impotence required to feature his partner in crime to her fullest. Thankfully, Aaron is impulse-driven, and so Elizabeth is able to control Aaron, thus ensuring the success of her, I mean, their scheme. It takes a very strong man (and actor) who is willing to allow someone else to steal the limelight at times and allow himself to be controlled. And Rick is able to make his periodical discomfort show through flawlessly. Although I do not know Rick personally, it’s evident in his depiction of Aaron that he is comfortable in permitting his costar to be the predominant one. In fact, I believe he delights in aiding the other actors in the film to shine as his humility is practically legendary. I am certain that acting opposite a crackerjack actor like Rick who doesn’t attempt to steal the show at every turn must make Rick a dream to work with, and that easy camaraderie is apparent in the way all the actors interact on-screen.
While this is only the third Rick film I have been privileged to see, there is no doubt that this one is not only his best so far, but it is my favorite as of now. I was engrossed in the story and the brilliant acting from the beginning to the end. In my humble opinion, Lifetime and Rick Ravanello always promise the best of the Lifetime network, and I anxiously await the opportunity to uncover more gems from this radiant actor.
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