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Viewed at Pacific Place
Rated PG; running time of 115 minutes
Written by: Nicholas Kazan
Directed by: Michael Apted
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Tessa Allen, Dan Futterman, Noah Wyle, and Juliette Lewis
WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW.
Toiling away in a greasy spoon with dreams of going back to college and then law school, Slim (Jennifer Lopez) is swept off of her feet by a knight in shining armor - or so he seems. Mitch (Billy Campbell) steps in when a slimeball named Robbie (Noah Wyle) tries to run a dating scam on her. Before long they are married and expecting their first child.
Their relationship seems to be going well. They have a daughter named Gracie (Tessa Allen), live in a fancy house, and have a successful business.
One night while Slim is cleaning up the kitchen, she notices that Mitch's pager is going crazy. She picks it up and sees a code. She presses that code into his cell phone and is connected to his girlfriend. Angry, she confronts him and the situation goes from bad to worse. He explains that the girlfriend means nothing, but he has needs and besides this is the price she has to pay for the life they lead. When she puts up more arguing, he pops her in the face. Mitch then taunts her with it, by showing no remorse and suggesting that he is actually happy to not have to lie about anymore. He likes this new openness in their relationship and informs her that he is going over to his girlfriend's house.
Slim visits her mother-in-law who looks at her face and asks what did she do to cause it. Having no other family, she turns to her friends. Her best friend Ginny, tells her to file charges and leave him. Slim won't have the father of her child arrested and she wants to try to work it out. In the 6 some-odd years they've been together, he's never hit her before. Slim is also in denial, she remarks that other people find themselves in this situation, not her.
She tries to deal with it, but it's impossible. She can't handle Mitch blatantly throwing the affair in her face. He has made veiled threats about taking their daughter if she tries to leave, so she's scared. But she has to leave, she can't live like this. So in the middle of the night she escapes with her daughter and begins a new life.
Her new life isn't easy at first. She makes mistakes and he finds her, but she manages to give him the slip. She tries not to rely on her friends because Mitch is watching them and will find her and/or harm them.
Finally after moths of running and struggling, Slim and Gracie settle in Michigan and let their guard down - until Mitch shows back up.
I'm not sure where to begin. I did like the movie, it was a nice Hollywood story about empowerment and escaping domestic violence. Speaking as survivor myself, (and the daughter of a survivor and the granddaughter of someone who never managed to get out of the situation and as someone who volunteered at a shelter) this was a very dangerous movie. I think it's cool that she got out as quickly as she did. I was very pleased to see her jet with her child even though she had no money. But not all battered women have a super-rich relative who can funnel them some cash - enough to buy a house and a car. And the truth of the matter is she committed a capital crime. Mitch was no angel, and I think eventually he would have killed her and gotten custody of their child and I don't blame her for whipping his ass. BUT it is going to be very hard to prove that what she did was self-defense. I would hate for battered women, once they are away from the situation, to see this movie then decide to go back into it all kung-fu'd out and beat the abuser's ass. That is dangerous. In the real world it's unlikely that Slim would have been able to get the upper hand the way that she did. Rely on the justice system. It's not perfect, but when it works, it works well.
Remove yourself from the situation. Call the police. Get a restraining order. File charges. Yes, an R.O. is just a piece of paper, but with that paper the police have more power to arrest him and with each subsequent arrest, he should get more jail time.
I have a few other issues with the movie, most of which extend from my personal experience and everyone's experience is different.
Finally, the one thing that drove me nuts was the title cards that were used to progress the story. Rather than using, oh say, the script or even little typescript on the screen. Often times the film jumped after the title card and quite frankly the text on the cards was pretty ridiculous.
J-Lo was pretty decent. But, once again, she had trouble showing her emotions. I think it's hard for her to show vulnerability. I had this same problem with her in Angel Eyes. She's got "rage" and "happy" down, but she needs to work on "sad" and "upset". When she finally manages to squeeze out a few tears, the mood is gone. Billy Campbell just wasn't evil enough. He was a jackass, no question, but as far as I'm concerned he was more obnoxious than anything. Little Gracie was adorable and Juliette Lewis was strong in her supporting role as Slim's best friend and rock.
All in all this is was a good movie. It was well-written enough to illicit support from the male members of the audience which considering this is a chick-flick is a pretty good feat.
I was at the point of Enough J-Lo until I saw this flick.
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Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2002
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