Enough time has passed since Casey Anthony was acquitted of the murder of her daughter Caylee that audiences can now expect to be offered books, movies, TV shows, etc. of the story behind the story. One of the first out of the gate is Lifetime's original movie Prosecuting Casey Anthony. This movie is based on prosecuting attorney Jeff Ashton's book Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony that he co-wrote with Lisa Pulitzer. The film stars Rob Lowe as Ashton and is a largely dispassionate account of the trial and the prosecutor's theories for securing a conviction.
The prosecuting team is composed of Ashton, Linda Burdick (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Frank George (David Richmond-Peck). Burdick is lead chair but Ashton seemingly calls the shots. He has taken on this case that virtually can't be lost as the close out to his career. He also has a deep need inside himself to see Casey Anthony (Virginia Welch) convicted.
The movie, to its credit, does not project a very flattering image of Ashton. He seems to think the case is unlosable particularly because Casey is being represented by untested attorney Jose Baez (Oscar Nunez). Ashton has nothing but disdain for Baez and is totally condescending towards him in court. Even when Baez shows he has a few tricks up his sleeve, Ashton refuses to take him as a serious threat.
Ashton's overconfidence also shows up in his courtroom demeanor. He smirks, even laughs out loud at some of Baez's statements and questions. He is constantly being cautioned by Linda not to appear smug and arrogant. In the film the jurors pick up on these actions and attitudes and their reaction to Ashton might have led to their failure to convict.
Lowe does a good job of painting all of these facets of Ashton's personality. He exudes over confidence in his being and attitudes. He knows he is a good and successful prosecutor and thinks his record shows that he cannot lose such an open and shut case.
Opposite him Nunez is masterful in his portrayal of Baez. He shows his aggressiveness, his commitment, and his intelligence. Little was expected of Baez in court but much was delivered, at least in this movie portrayal. He appears to be just as confident of an acquittal as Ashton is confident of a conviction.
Kevin Dunn has some good moments as George Anthony, Casey's father. He gives a glimpse of some of the complexities involved in the man's character. As Casey, Welch has little to do but look like the notorious woman and mimic her courtroom behavior.
The film never gets into the hearts and souls of these characters. It only presents an outsider's observation of what was going on behind the scenes in the creation and presentation of the prosecution's case. Since the movie is based on Ashton's book you would expect a more detailed look at what was really going on in the mind of the man who was leading the charge.
Even with its flaws this is an engrossing look at the man who lost the case that couldn't be lost. The public was fascinated with the Casey Anthony trial and many of them should show up for this first look behind the scenes.
Prosecuting Casey Anthony. airs Sunday, January 19 at 8PM on Lifetime.