Viewers in search of a fast-paced whodunit that stays solidly within pure-drama territory will find plenty to like in “Deconstructing Sarah,” thanks to strong acting and surprising plot twists.
When ad agency exec Sarah Vincent (Rachel Ticotin) feels the need to escape her high-paying, fast-lane trappings for some casual sex, she dons a red wig and hits the other side of the tracks as her alter ego, Ruth.
Apparently she likes the rush of consorting with blue-collar types that dating Harvard grads doesn’t offer.
This double life gets discovered following Sarah’s murder, when her best friend, Elizabeth Davis (Sheila Kelley), begins to piece together the after-hours goings-on, uncovering several candidates who could be responsible for the deed.
Scripter Lee Rose deftly keeps the two-hour telefilm from sinking into melodrama genre by offering a trio of interesting story tangents and raising the specter of several suspects. The identity of the murderer should catch some viewers by surprise.
As both the twilight temptress and creative dynamo, Ticotin is credible and a pleasure to watch. When one of Sarah’s bar beaus (A Martinez) links the two identities and begins stalking her, Ticotin presents a first-rate reading of a level-headed businesswoman disintegrating under the pressure of maintaining dual identities.
Martinez rises way above his familiar soap star persona, effecting a chilling presence as he earns his place on the top of the list of suspects for Sarah’s murder, while Kelley brings to the role a stability that creates credibility, acting as the even keel that keeps this drama on course.
Director Craig Baxley taps into his considerable background as a second unit helmer to keep the presentation moving forward, while guiding his thesps to deliver taut, interesting perfs.