Dangerous Intentions” treats an important social issue, domestic violence, in an engrossing way without sensationalism. The subject matter guarantees a big audience share, but the telepic deserves a ratings prize on its own merits.
Aside from a well-earned moment of preachiness in a late courtroom scene, there’s no pontificating. Instead, “Dangerous” offers an unflinching, informative look at men brutalizing their wives.
Donna Mills and Corbin Bernsen deliver outstanding performances as Beth and Tim Williamson, a Seattle couple fighting the demon of abuse.
Tim is a smooth-talking architect prone to eruptions of violence. Beth finally files charges, and her second nightmare begins. The court is lenient, letting him off with probation, and when she moves in with her sister, he terrorizes her from a distance.
On the advice of a social worker, she moves to a shelter for battered women. This is the system’s only answer, and it results in a perverse situation: Beth and her daughter are forced to hide while he occupies their home.
In the shelter she befriends Kaye (Robin Givens), who’s been through it all. Hoping to build a new life, the two single mothers rent an apartment with their children — at which point the vidpic takes on the guise of a thriller.
It’s a disturbing story, told without gimmicks or distracting technique. (The closest thing to a gimmick is the casting of Givens, Mike Tyson’s former wife and an alleged victim of abuse.)
Bernsen, looking heavy and sporting a short haircut, is fantastic as the belligerent husband, and Mills is completely convincing as the victim. Best of all, they’re believable as a couple. The supporting cast is first-rate.
David J. Hill’s script, marked by realistic dialogue, covers the subject thoroughly. Director Michael Toshiyuki Uno achieves a dreary, almost documentary , feel that lends an aura of truthfulness.
As for tech credits, the makeup and fight choreography leave something to be desired.
Refreshingly, “Dangerous” doesn’t inflate the children’s characters: There are no precocious kids spouting canny insights. This is an adult problem, handled in an adult fashion.
Does the movie go too far in depicting spouse abuse? Maybe. But the makers of “Dangerous Intentions” shouldn’t be faulted for going to extremes in dramatizing the issue. It’s a valid alternative to vidpix offering glib answers to watered-down problems.