The case of the “Survivor” producer extradited to and imprisoned in Mexico for the killing of his wife practically screams “Lifetime movie.” Yet this acquisition, “Murder in Mexico: The Bruce Beresford-Redman Story,” chronicles what happened with admirable restraint, presenting the circumstances in a manner that leaves room for alternate theories of what transpired. Tellingly, the tale has already been presented elsewhere – including on CBS’ “48 Hours” – but this straightforward account manages to dramatize these events without unfairly putting its thumb on the scales of justice.
Cutting back and forth in time, the movie introduces Beresford-Redman (Colin Egglesfield) and his wife Monica (Leonor Varela) on vacation in Cancun with their two kids. Yet what appears to be an ideal couple – she a restaurateur, he a producer on Mark Burnett series like “Survivor” and “The Contender” – is actually in the midst of turmoil. His affair with a co-worker has endangered their marriage, with Monica discovering the betrayal and telling him, “I will take the house and the kids and every g—damn cent you make!”
The vacation is ostensibly an opportunity to help repair the relationship, but then Monica goes missing. And noticing the scratches on Bruce’s arm and hearing the story of their marital discord from Monica’s sister (Iris Almario), the authorities soon turn their attention to him after her body turns up stuffed into a pipe on the resort grounds.
Directed by Mark Gantt from a script by Ron McGee, the movie shrewdly depicts what might have happened twice, during Bruce’s account of how he got those wounds and, later, when the prosecution presents its theory of the crime. In the process, the filmmakers manage to conjure suspicions both about the quality of the evidence and Beresford-Redman’s guilt, given the holes in his version of events.
In that regard, credit Egglesfield (“Rizzoli & Isles”) with giving away little about his character’s internal state – a man who appears to be frantic but might very well be giving a performance worthy of more than just reality television. Varela is also quite good, and sticks around longer than one might have expected thanks to the flashbacks.
Beresford-Redman remains in a Mexican prison, and continues to profess his innocence. Unlike some Lifetime movies – especially those that include adultery and a dead spouse – “Murder in Mexico” doesn’t send its audience to bed with absolute clarity. That’s because this version of reality is content leaving some doubt about who might have outwitted whom, in a movie with a Hollywood connection, but not a Hollywood ending.