Third installment in Showtime’s Learn While You Earn program for novice directors was helmed by Kathleen Turner, who also plays uncredited cameo. If she personally selected Lynn Mamet’s pretentious script, Turner should keep her SAG membership paid up.
Story is of Leslie (Anne Archer), housewife who’s torn between uptight husband Ira (John Doman) and hunky paramour Daniel (John Shea).
When Leslie finds herself pregnant, she’s afraid to tell Ira, and Daniel panics at the prospect that it might be his. Against the advice of best friend Susan (Mary Kay Place), Leslie opts for an abortion.
There’s much angst, appropriately; the problem is that the stilted dialogue sounds more literary than conversational, no matter how often David Mamet’s sister has her middle-class, middle-aged characters say four-letter words. More are used in this half-hour than one would expect to hear at a longshoreman’s bar.
In a non-blue stretch of typically stilted speech, Leslie is asked why she chooses to abort her unborn child, and explains, “Because I will love it and that is something I can ill afford — I choose to mourn it.”
When Susan tries to convince her not to abort, Leslie counters, “This from a woman who likens childbirth to a heart-lung transplant?”
Without four-letter words, the half-hour could be recycled as 15-minute filler for Lifetime.
The talented actors try hard with Mamet’s lines, Archer delivering them as if she were auditioning for “Masterpiece Theater” and Place making them sound somewhat more natural. Charles Durning fares best as Leslie’s doctor.
Tech credits are OK, as is Turner’s direction. The choice of vehicle may not have been hers — David and Lynn Mamet between them scripted three of the six “Directed By” episodes.