Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In Her Defense

Lifetime movies are renowned for their predictability. So when a Lifetime movie keeps me guessing, it can only mean one thing: the plot doesn't make a lick of sense.

Which brings us to In Her Defense. This is one of those rare Lifetime movies that stars a bona fide Oscar winner. But not just any Oscar winner! An actress who I've had a crush on ever since I first saw her in guest appearances in television shows, like, uh, Judging Amy. (That's right. I used to watch Judging Amy. You got a problem!?) In 1986, she became the youngest woman to win the Best Actress award. Since then, she's been racking up nominations for Emmys (Emmies?) and Golden Globes as a guest star in countless television shows. So obviously she needs no introduction.

If you still don't know who it is, would it help you if I told you she was deaf?

That's right! Marlee Matlin!

As you can tell, I love Marlee Matlin. I have high hopes for anything that she's in. This is quite naive of me. If she was willing to be in a turd like What The Bleep, Lord only knows what Lifetime has in store for her.

So, we have two attorneys facing off in Canadian court. Everyone has a vague French-Canadian accent that will make every line of dialogue a puzzle for me to unlock. I guess it makes sense for a Marlee Matlin film. I had such a hard time with the accents that when Matlin spoke, deciphering her was easy as pie.

It turns out the prosecutor, Debra, and the defense attorney, Andrew, are friends. They went through law school together and train together at the local boxing center. They even used to work together before some unknown indiscretion forced Andrew to bolt for defensier pastures.

Debra invites Andrew to an art exhibit where he meets Jane. Jane is a deaf artist. Andrew finds her ravishing. As luck would have it, he knows a bit of sign language. A match made in heaven?

No. Jane is married to an abusive Montreal mobster named Noby. Wait. Noby!? This guy is supposed to be intimidating? He's named Noby for Christ's sake.

So Jane visits Andrew at work asking all sorts of questions about divorce. Noby is worth about twenty million Canadian dollars. According to Jane and Noby's pre-nup, Jane would only be able to get 1/40th of that. Unless Noby dies. Hmmmm.

Andrew is an idiot so he decides to help her in the divorce. He drives to her Canadian ranch and she feeds him muffins. Then, while they're both chewing, she starts kissing him. It's really gross. Then they fuck on a rug in front of a fire.

Jane asks for some tissues from a cabinet and Andrew notices a handgun. Well you can't introduce a gun in the first act without it going off in the third. Or, in this case, you can't introduce a gun in the first act without it going off in the first act. A few days later, Jane and Andrew are again fucking in front of a fireplace when Noby shows up throwing punches. Andrew shoots him dead and ignorantly insists that they cover it up instead of calling the police.

I would expect that kind of stupid shit from someone who has the cards stacked against them. Like when four white guys on a Georgia river shoot a rapist with a bow and arrow. That shit needed to be covered up. After all, burying someone under a lake is as buried as someone can be.

Because this is how Lifetime movies work, Debra is assigned the case. One of Noby's underlings tells the cops that he sold Jane a gun that matches the gun that was used to shoot Noby in the heart. That's all the evidence they have. A drug addict claiming to sell her a gun. That and some previous affairs. Apparently this is enough to try someone for murder in Canada. Jane wisely hires the obviously incompetent Andrew as her attorney.

Then we get a flash forward from the district attorney (Debra is his ADA). He mentions the elements of the perfect murder. An abused woman, a gun, and a smart attorney. Um, ok? Then he says that the murder is perfect because we as humans are not. What the Hell does that mean?

So there's a trial and blah, blah, blah. Andrew is still fucking Jane by the fireplace. Debra notices something is up and warns Andrew to stop the affair until the trial is over.

The only interesting information that we're given at the trial is that Jane is clearly up to something. She had had a few affairs with lawyers prior to Andrew. And Noby made a bunch of calls to Jane in the days before he was shot. Calls to her at the Montreal Ritz-Carlton. So Jane might have set this entire thing up.

Andrew has a friend who is doing some sleuth work on the side. He says he found something about Jane that will blow open the entire case. The friend is quickly shot dead at a farmer's market. The gunman managed to time the gunshot with a child popping a balloon so no heard the gun go off. And, yeah, I know that makes no sense.

Andrew, mourning the death of his murdered friend, gets an anonymous phone call leading him to a bunch of documents that could implicate someone else in the shooting. He uses this evidence at trial and gets the charges dismissed. The other dude, another one of Noby's associates, is found with the murder weapon.

Wait a second. The murder weapon is in Andrew's safety deposit box. Aha! Jane switched the guns! When Andrew calls her on it, Jane tells her that she is totally in love with him. Andrew buys this hook, line, and sinker.

Andrew's career as an attorney skyrockets. He makes partner at some fancy schmancy firm and is on his way to making millions. But then Andrew gets mailed the explosive evidence that got his friend killed. It turns out Debra and Jane were both cheerleaders at the same high school. My response would be, "So what?" But Andrews pays a surprise visit to Jane and she is playing footsie with her Debra, HER LESBIAN LOVER.

Andrew threatens both of them with a gun. Debra explains that everyone wins. Andrew's career has taken off and Jane and Debra get to live together with Noby's riches. Sure Debra had to kill Andrew's friend, but you got to break a few eggs to make that delicious lesbian omelet. Andrew storms off, but not before Jane tells him that she wasn't lying when she said she loved him. It's just that she loves Debra more. Like any good attention-starved college student, Jane loves the person, not the gender.

Andrew remains pissed off and turns himself into the police. Remember the D.A. talking about the perfect murder involving the attorney? Now the D.A. is saying that the only thing that went wrong in this perfect murder was the human element.

Well, then it isn't the perfect murder, is it?

ACTUAL AWESOMENESS: 6

Point deductions everywhere for the French-Canadian accents. I had to pay complete attention for two hours to understand every word. The acting was pretty abysmal. It needed more Matlin. (Do you think she brings her Oscar to the Lifetime sets just to put everyone else in their pathetic little place?)

If you couldn't tell, the plot was ludicrous.

IRONIC AWESOMENESS: 4

But not funny ludicrous. Just stupid ludicrous. Usually I enjoy it when a Lifetime attorney has ridiculous highlights and people absolutely insist on making love in front of fireplaces and ONLY in front of fireplaces. But it left me cold here.

HEY! IT'S THAT GUY!: 4

Once we get past Matlin, it's slim pickings here.

LIFETIMENESS: 7

I was so confused. Here we have a movie where the protagonist is male. Fuck the heck is that all about? But then we find out it's a conspiracy where the two female characters are smarter than everyone else. That makes more sense.

GRAND TOTAL: 21

Not a great movie, but it was Citizen Kane compared to the dross that I've been watching on Lifetime over the past month. Tonight there's a movie about a blind woman learning karate to confront her rapist. Perhaps that's the return to glory we've all been waiting for.

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