Mary Pipher's best selling novel Reviving Ophelia is now a Lifetime movie. It tells the story of two teenage girls, one of whom is physically abused by her boyfriend. The reactions of the two girls to this abuse make up the basic plot of the film.
Le Ann (Kim Dickens) and Marie (Jane Kaczmarek) are sisters. Le Ann is divorced while Marie is happily married. They both have adolescent daughters, Kelli (Carleigh Beverly) and Elizabeth (Rebecca Williams), who in the past have been best friends. Lately, however, Elizabeth's boyfriend Mark (Nick Thurston) has come between them.
Mark is domineering, jealous and suspicious but Elizabeth overlooks all of this because she loves him. It is only when he becomes physically abusive that she begins to have concerns. Even then she blames herself for having provoked him.
The film is right on target when it shows how Mark manipulates Elizabeth, alienating her from her parents (Kaczmarek and Peter Outerbridge) and her friends. It is a situation Elizabeth should have nipped in the bud but she is in love with him and doesn't want to lose him.
Many parents would argue that their daughter could never find herself in this type of relationship, and other parents would argue that their son would never be abusive. Still statistics show that relationships like this are not as rare as you would believe, and physical abuse among teenagers is a problem.
Kaczmarek and Dickens are good as the two sisters who give each other solid moral support. Beverly and Williams are impressive as the two teenagers. But it is Thurston who is the standout as Mark. He has his whininess and petulance down to a "t."
Many people dismiss Lifetime movies as "disease of the month" films. This one should not be dismissed out of hand as it deals with a real social problem and one that requires exposure. It is recommended that families watch this movie together and then start a dialogue about physical abuse.
Movies can sometimes hold up a mirror to our lives and make us aware that something that is occurring is not the norm. Physical abuse is never justified and this movie portrays a situation where a teenage boy tries to do just that. Perhaps seeing such a situation on TV will wake some teenager up to the reality of an abusive relationship.
Make plans to watch this movie together with your family when it premieres on Lifetime, Monday, October 11 at 9PM.
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