Review: ‘Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret’

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

Cashing in on the trial, Lifetime movie is unabashed exploitation

With a sordid “true story” of sex, violence and Mormonism tailor-made for TV-movie treatment, “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” makes no apologies for its obligatory exploitation. Twenty years ago, the major networks would’ve been fighting for the rights to Arias’ tawdry tale, and conflicting points of view could have inspired multiple pics à la Amy Fisher. In 2013, Lifetime has the market all to itself and the cabler should reap the ratings rewards with a timely — and undeniably trashy — take.

Not a moment was wasted bringing this quickie cash-in to the screen. “Secret” was already deep into production when a jury found Arias (played by Tania Raymonde) guilty on May 8 of first-degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander (Jesse Lee Soffer).

But the 32-year-old mystery woman was convicted as a cold-hearted villain in the court of public opinion long before a formal verdict arrived, and “Secret” has no qualms about portraying Arias the way most armchair jurors already see her: as a “Fatal Attraction”-level bonkers femme fatale.

Intimate details of Arias and Alexander’s sexual relationship powered the sensationalist news coverage surrounding Arias’ trial and provide the backbone here, from the moment Arias follows Alexander into a men’s bathroom to introduce herself, through the sex marathon and naked photo shoots that preceded Alexander’s murder.

Motivational speaker Alexander is dutifully presented as a good Mormon boy conflicted by his frequent sexual encounters with Arias. At worst, he’s leading her on in a situation that will go nowhere, but the script by Richard Blaney and Gregory Small provides plenty of chances for Alexander to make it clear to Arias they don’t have a future together. There’s no hint or suggestion of the physical abuse or other accusations Arias made against Alexander in her case for self-defense during the trial.

Arias, meanwhile, mistakes their natural rapport and chemistry between the sheets for mutual affection and, as depicted, clearly becomes a woman obsessed.

After their breakup, Arias hacks into Alexander’s email to send compromising photos to his boss, slashes his tires and even breaks into his house to photograph him with chaste Mormon g.f. Katie (Leah Pipes) while they sleep.

There’s an unambiguous moralistic streak to this rendering of the story: Arias is the aggressive vixen who instinctively resorts to murder when her carnal hold over Alexander starts to fade, and Alexander tragically pays the ultimate price for his “sins.”

Outside of one relatively witty moment when Arias announces she’s decided to convert to Mormonism and then goes down on Alexander in a hot tub before reemerging in a baptismal pool, the film finds no spark in its clumsy mix of religion, sex and death. Any guilty-pleasure potential is spoiled by the unsettling aftertaste of a real person losing his life to make the movie possible.

The plentiful erotic content is tame by basic cable standards — Raymonde basically spends a lot of time prancing around in skimpy underwear. Instead, veteran “Law & Order” director Jace Alexander pulls out all the stops for a graphic murder scene in which Arias attacks Alexander in the shower, stabbing him 27 times. Too bad the eerie hints of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” only serve as a reminder there are alternate ways to adapt true-crime material.

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

(Movie; Lifetime, Sat. June 22, 8 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by SilverScreen Pictures in association with City Entertainment and Peace Out Productions.

Crew

Executive producers, Joshua D. Maurer, Judith Verno, Alixandre Witlin; producers, Kyle Clark, Lina Wong; co-producer, Laurence Ducceschi; director, Jace Alexander; writers, Richard Blaney, Gregory Small; camera, Sharone Meir; editor, Christopher Nelson, Yvette M. Amirian; music, Erran Baron Cohen; casting, Fern Champion. 120 MIN.

Cast

Tania Raymonde, Jesse Lee Soffer, Leah Pipes, Tony Plana, David Zayas, Debra Mooney

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  1. max workouts says:

    I got this web site from my friend who told me on the topic
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  2. ck says:

    The movie was terrific and the acting just great. Watched the entire trial and figured this would be some cheesy rip off and it wasnt…this was so well done. Congrats!

  3. Alice says:

    Absolutely this movie was a disgrace and compete humiliation added more to Travis Alexander, Not only having sex photos of him and also a phone sex recording on the web for thousands of people to view. They had to make a movie with untrue events that didn’t even occur in the first place. The actors of this movie was horrible, they both didn’t truly portray who they were suppose to present. I know for a fact Travis or his family and his friends wouldn’t want him to suffer through this humiliation. Nor I would doubt they would watch this movie. Out of respect of Travis Alexander and his family I wouldn’t waste your time watching.

  4. kit9 says:

    I was amazed at how accurate it was. For people who didn’t follow the trial, all the insane things Jodi does in the film, she actually did. In fact, they didn’t include all of it. Probably because they didn’t think people would believe it. But, she actually did repeatedly break into Travis’s house, once crawling through the doggie door. She hacked into his email accounts. She slashed his tires, not once but twice. She also slashed the tires of his new girlfriend. And, sent her nasty emails.

  5. Robert says:

    This was OK some parts were not accurate to where they mention Hawaii it was Cancun where the business trip was planed and some of the actors portraying the real persons exp the Prosecutor Juan Martinez and the Mesa Police Detective head of the murder Steve Flores I think they could of gotten a better actor that resembled them.I think this was made to hasty they should of waited till the trial completely ended and got most of the facts accurate and right

  6. Terri says:

    I think it was a good movie showing both sides. He was a typical man with such hot attraction leading her on. Not excusing murder but he had an addiction to doin it with her. On the other side I have been stalked by a psyco lover. Scariest thing I have ever experienced!!

  7. Charlie says:

    Another awful movie from Lifetime, sorry I wasted my time

  8. An unethical cloud lingers about this movie. Fate of the murderer is not yet sealed. With a limited pool of potential jurors soon to be interviewed, Lifetime should have demonstrated restraint. I recall a TV movie about Betty Broderick’s case, another psychopathic killer (ex-husband/new wife), whose 1st trial ended with a hung jury.That movie wasn’t produced, & didn’t air until guilt was resolved via re-trial. Public’s appetite for gore doesn’t diminish. Why the rush?

  9. Lance Ryan says:

    This “Movie” feeds off the obsessions of two foolihpeople
    who have only their sexual needs in mind.From what Ican see of Travis he whas just an other over rated turkey.

    Jodi can not justify her actions however she has too many
    talents to be wasted.

    GOD Bless everyone and let let his wisdom guide your
    hands..

    Lance Ryan

  10. Ari Collins says:

    For the murder scene to be correct, movie should show Jodi holding Travis at gunpoint in shower – how else could this woman bully a young strong man to sit in such a vulnerable position in bottom of small shower? Her reflection in his right eye shows the truth: Reflection in Travis Alexander’s Eye: http://youtu.be/qzUv1NQd5uA via @youtube

  11. Paul Stunze says:

    “Any guilty-pleasure potential is spoiled by the unsettling aftertaste of a real person losing his life to make the movie possible.”

    By this standard, according to the reviewer, we can infer that no movies should be made about real life murders, or anything tragic for that matter. Amy Fisher’s victim (since Berkshire brings it up) was shot in the face and has suffered ever since. That too had to happen in order to “make the movie possible.” Is there no unsettling aftertaste there?

    This tragedy was an ugly incident that people have been telling stories about since it happened. This movie is another variety of that storytelling. Attack it on its faults if you want, but don’t argue that it never should have been made. Or perhaps people should only make movies about pleasant people sitting around eating cake and agreeing with each other.

  12. pj says:

    Fatal attraction is right! If this was a witch hunt – they got the witch. She is the epitome of evil!

  13. geebee2 says:

    “convicted as a cold-hearted villain in the court of public opinion long before a formal verdict arrived”
    and
    “bonkers femme fatale”

    absolutely right : see http://femme-fatale.wikispaces.com where I explain the femme fatale is a myth and witches don’t exists. This was a classic witch hunt, the same as Amanda Knox and Debra Milke and dozens of other cases through history.

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