Review: ‘Too Close to Home’

Fine, innovative use by writers Alan Hines and Adam Greenman of the possessive-mother theme proves a bonanza to inestimable Judith Light and dependable Rick Schroder. Directed with near-intimate inspection by Bill Corcoran, "Too Close to Home" is easily the art vidpic of the year. It's a must. Diana Donahue (Light) still agilely clings to 29-year-old son, lawyer Nick (Schroder), by keeping him home and away from temptation. Now he's moving into an apartment. Nature breaks through in the form of a delightful nurse, Abby (fresh-faced Sarah Trigger), and it's up to Diana to throw every body block she can to keep Nick away from Abby; Diana knows some pretty underhanded methods.

The Hines-Greenman meller details some of her blitzkrieg style, but mostly Diana is startlingly secretive. Helmer Corcoran, abetted by Malcolm Cross’ insightful lensing, uses striking setups, tight close-ups of Diana’s face as she confides to the camera.

The telefilm, based on a true story, as end credits reveal, has an intriguing sense of inevitable doom. Vidpic relates how the madly jealous Diana tries discrediting Abby while Nick counters her attempts. The women keep challenging each other until one’s washed away.

No soaper, “Too Close” sometimes has the power of serious legit drama, with everyone involved displaying utter respect for this bio of an obsessed woman.

What would seem an unlikely stretch in a fictional tale is that Nick ends up defending his mother in court. Certain he knows his own mother, Nick hasn’t done his homework on her mother’s past; the prosecution has. The complex relationship between mom and son, particularly symbolized in a silent scene in which they sit motionless in a detention room, seems unnervingly real, and Schroder’s confused but determined Nick works out strikingly well.

Light wastes no time on histrionics: Diana’s too cunning for such maneuvers. As the shady lady, the actress demonstrates how subtle and deadly serious a telefilm can be. Secondary roles — Dorothy Gordon’s nervous tenant Mrs. Sweeney, Dawn Greenhalgh’s dead-serious judge, Harry J. Lennix as prosecuting attorney, Anthony Sherwood as investigating cop Gillespie — are ably played.

Ralph Brunjes’ superior editing paces the vidpic beautifully, right down to the bang-up ending. Tim Bider’s production design is richly imaginative and credible, and Jonathan Goldsmith has contributed a spare, helpful score. All the way, a grabber.

Too Close to Home

CBS, Tues. April 29, 9 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Toronto by Once Upon a Time Films. Executive producers, Stanley M. Brooks, Herb Hamsher, Robert Stein; supervising producer, Rebecca Whittington; co-producers, Jerry Jameson, Phil Behrens, Bill Mitchell, David Hill, Adam Greenman; director, Bill Corcoran; writers, Alan Hines, Greenman; camera, Malcolm Cross; additional camera, Rene Ohashi

Crew

; editor, Ralph Brunjes; production designer, Tim Bider; art director, Beeno Tutter; sound, Ao Loo; music, Jonathan Goldsmith; casting, Nelleke Privett Casting (Canada), Ellen Lubin Sanitsky (U.S.). 2 HOURS.

Cast

Cast: Judith Light, Rick Schroder, Sarah Trigger, Dorothy Gordon, Ruth Marshall, John Nelles, Peter McNeil, Harry J. Lennix, Sugith Varughese, Allegra Fulton, Gil Rivera Blas, Don Allison, James Kidnie, Chris Kelk, Domenic Cina, Aidan Devine, Kenner Ames, Walter Alza, Anthony Sherwood, Martin Roach, Ari Cohen, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Dawn Greenhalgh, Tom Otto, Tino Monte, John Innes.
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