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A Mother’s Revenge

The most surprising aspect of "A Mother's Revenge" on ABC is the fact that John Bensink's script is adapted from a novel, not "based on a true story." That's especially startling since the plot sounds like something out of the newspaper: Mother of molestation victim shoots suspect to death in court after legal technicality forces an acquittal. Telepic deals in a horrible subject and illuminates the crying game that doesn't stop for those involved.

With:
Cast: Lesley Ann Warren, Bruce Davison, Missy Crider, Allison Mack, David Byron, Annette O'Toole, Shirley Knight, Joseph Rassulo, Larry Sollar, William Cook, Kenneth Bridges, Elic Bramlett, Francesca Jarvis, Gary Clark, Jacqueline Masei, Sandi Wong, Michael Collins, Wanda Dittman, Barbara Hazlett, Nomi Mitty, David Palmer, Robert Guajardo, Marcus Wright, Ted Parks, Peppi Sanders.

The most surprising aspect of “A Mother’s Revenge” on ABC is the fact that John Bensink’s script is adapted from a novel, not “based on a true story.” That’s especially startling since the plot sounds like something out of the newspaper: Mother of molestation victim shoots suspect to death in court after legal technicality forces an acquittal. Telepic deals in a horrible subject and illuminates the crying game that doesn’t stop for those involved.

The plot revolves around a young girl, Wendy Sanders (Allison Mack), who is attacked by the school janitor, played Frankensteinishly by David Byron. Telepic cuts to the chase with the stalking of the girl at school, and then to discovery of her beaten, raped but breathing body.

Director Armand Mastroianni really plays the heartstrings as parents Carol and Bill Sanders (Lesley Ann Warren and Bruce Davison) see their battered daughter in the intensive care unit. Anger supplants sadness when mother Carol gets a call from the janitor, who has yet to be arrested, threatening to hurt the girl again if she talks.

The threat spurs the buying of a gun, and Warren nicely goes from shocked to sad to mad, with her emotional ride tempered by Davison’s quiet desperation — which grows immensely after the fatal shooting of the janitor, and his wife’s conviction.

Bensink’s script shifts from the victims’ search for justice to their vengeance, and the pace of pic slows almost to crawl at times; scenes of the family — including guilt-ridden sister Jill Sanders (Missy Crider), who was late picking her sister up from school that fateful day — turn into little more than grief-sharing episodes.

Crider shows diversity by playing the strong, positive sister to Wendy, while privately blaming herself and feeling resentment from her mother.

It would be hard to watch “A Mother’s Revenge” and not get emotional — but this is hard to watch anyway, because of the topic of child molestation.

But telepic is assembled with sensitivity — credit the exec producer, producers and director Mastroianni — which keeps it from being exploitative and unwatchable.

Popular on Variety

A Mother's Revenge

(Sun. (14), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

Production: Filmed in Phoenix by Carla Singer Prods. in association with WorldIntl. Pictures. Executive producer, Carla Singer; producers, Maj Canton, Joan Carson; associate producers, Myra Model, Annie Azzariti; director, Armand Mastroianni; writer, John Bensink, based on the book "Desperate Justice," by Richard Speight.

Crew: Camera, Paul Onorato; editor, Phillip J. Sgriccia; production designer, Patricia van Ryker; sound, Randy Gable; music, Laura Karpman.

Cast: Cast: Lesley Ann Warren, Bruce Davison, Missy Crider, Allison Mack, David Byron, Annette O'Toole, Shirley Knight, Joseph Rassulo, Larry Sollar, William Cook, Kenneth Bridges, Elic Bramlett, Francesca Jarvis, Gary Clark, Jacqueline Masei, Sandi Wong, Michael Collins, Wanda Dittman, Barbara Hazlett, Nomi Mitty, David Palmer, Robert Guajardo, Marcus Wright, Ted Parks, Peppi Sanders.

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