For years, Lifetime haters have railed against the dull, amateurish, soapy original movies shown on this cable channel. Well, step away from the TV set, doubters, the new original Lifetime movie, Of Two Minds , smashes all of those generalizations. This is an engrossing movie and is led by a pitch perfect performance by Tammy Blanchard. When awards are handed out next year she should be at the front of the line.
Of Two Minds is a tale of two sisters. Billie (Kristin Davis) is a woman who has it all. She has a loving husband, a job she enjoys and two kids she adores. Her one sibling is Elizabeth, called Baby (Blanchard). Baby is schizophrenic and lives with the girls' mother (Bonnie Bartlett). When the mother has a stroke Billie gets the call from her Aunt Will (Louise Fletcher). She rushes to her mother's bedside. In their one brief conversation Billie hopes for an acknowledgment of love. All she gets is an instruction to take care of her sister.
Billie ends up taking Baby home with her after their mother dies. She has created a room for her and tries to integrate her into her family's life. This all meets with terrible consequences. Things get quiet for a while but the problems caused by Baby's illness are always looming.
The movie is totally engrossing. You really empathize with both these sisters and their situation is painful to consider. The fact that this is a problem for various families all across America is chilling. Some statistics which are handed out during the course of the film make us aware of how extensive this situation is. Who takes care of the mentally ill? That is the question.
Davis is the executive producer of the film as well as one of its stars. Opposite any other actress she might have had a chance to make her own mark on the audience, but sharing scene after scene with Blanchard reduces her to second billing. Blanchard is phenomenal. She gives Baby all the haunted eeriness that the illness creates while still making her loveable and vulnerable. The fact she still looks like Judy Garland, who she played in another TV movie, makes her vulnerability all the more apparent.
Of Two Minds makes quite an impression on the audience and lingers with them long after the film has ended. There are flaws in the movie to be sure. Some of the dialogue is a bit stilted, and some of the transitions of characters' actions don't ring true; still the caliber of the acting overcomes these minor points.
Joel Gretsch is good as Billie's husband while Fletcher shows some tenderness as Aunt Will. But aside from Blanchard, the only other actor who comes close to matching her skills is Alexander Le Bas who plays Davis, Billie's son. In his scenes with Blanchard they go toe to toe and emotion to emotion.
Of Two Minds is not your run of the mill Lifetime movie. It is an outstanding presentation which tackles a serious subject. All who participated deserve praise.
"Of Two Minds" premieres Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime. Don't miss it.
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