Frank’s 9-year-old son Jack (Joseph Cross), whom Roberta had never heard about, turns up; he has been willed jointly to her and Ben. Of course she can’t take the boy — that familiar twist surfaces early on — and his mother’s, well, not around. Ben has his own problems and there’s no one who can take Jack.
The tired dramatic dilemma piles up around sophisticated Roberta, who just wants out. Yellen and the writers turn for help to the burg’s local locos: wispy Daphne (Kathleen York), the town’s hostess, of sorts, and nitery singer; harelip Joe Scarlotti (writer Hoffman), whose speech difficulties fade as Roberta gets acclimatized; Aggie (Crystal Verge), merry multi-mother married to minister Emmett (Liam Blackwood).
There’s the Victorian hotel King Edward with its broken elevator, and there’s local entertainment, with Keaton singing Berlin’s “What’ll I Do” every bit as poignantly as she sang “Seems Like Old Times” in “Annie Hall.” In fact, Keaton’s interp of the tough Roberta has touching edges inside the comic aspects; Keaton’s again a delight.
Chaykin is generous and cheerful, surprising Ben is a pleasure. Joseph Cross’ endearing young Jack is a winner, and York’s appearances as Daphne are diverting.The telefilm’s wit, charm and innocence overcome any awkward passages, and the dialogue’s clean and purposeful. Joseph Yacoe’s camerawork is smart and surefire, and Jan Northrop’s editing helps set Yellen’s smart pace. Patrick Seymour’s score, aside from the Debussy bars, is unobtrusive and helpful, and Brent Thomas’ production designs are inventive.