×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Prison of Secrets

Prison of Secrets (Sun. (16), 8-10 p.m., Lifetime) Filmed in Los Angeles by Carroll Newman Prods. in association with Hearst Entertainment. Executive producer, Carroll Newman; co-executive producer, Yvonne Chotzen; co-producer, Melissa Gleason; director, Fred Gerber; writer, Layce Gardner; camera, John Fleckenstein; editor, Lisa Citron; production designer, Philip Dean Foreman; art director, Tim Eckel; sound, Peter Geoco; music, Nan Schwartz Mishkin; casting, Abra Edelman, Elisa Goodman, Wendy Kurtzman. Cast: Stephanie Zimbalist, Dan Lauria, Finola Hughes, Gary Frank, Rusty Schwimmer, Kimberly Russell, Tasia Valenza, Joel Polis, Dale Dickey, Paige Moss, Stephanie Sawyer, Brian Smiar, Janni Brenn, Joel MckInnon Miller, Stephen Quadros, Anita Finlay, Steven Banks, Bertila Damas, Robert David Hall, Dustin MacDonald, Adrienne Smith, Betsy Burke, Joseph J. Tomaska, Shane Edelman, Bob Kopyc, Joe Pichler, Lucky Luciano, Jimmy Shannon, Jennifer Sommerfield, Kelly Wilson, Billy Mayo, Billy Concha, Stephanie Nash, Cynthia Harrison, Daniel Zelman, Cerita Monet Bickemann, Monica Mikala. This movie about conditions for female convicts toes the Lifetime line by rigidly depicting men as the enemy, at the expense of plausibility and complexity. It's a price worth paying, perhaps. The plight of incarcerated women is a serious matter, as an accompanying documentary "Final Take: Breaking the Chain" shows. Yet what's going on behind these bars won't shock anyone in the habit of watching telepics. The standardized treatment puts more than the usual strain on the claim "inspired by true events." Dan Lauria, the grumpy dad from "The Wonder Years," turns in a menacing performance as a piggish prison guard. He and other male guards sexually exploit inmates and run a prostitution ring using a prison laundry van. Stephanie Zimbalist ("Rem-ington Steele") does her best Sally Field imitation as a middle-class mom arrested for murky, white-collar crimes involving real estate. She rejects a plea bargain and is sentenced to 10 years. Within 12 minutes of the opening credits she's being strip searched at the Delory Beach Women's Correctional Facility in a fictional Southern California town. She refuses to become the next victim, and after winning her fellow inmates' respect and enlisting the support of her reluctant radio host husband (Gary Frank), exposes the sordid happenings. At a crucial moment and with the help of the sole female guard she provides affidavits to a senator touring the prison. While not exactly a country club, this slammer has terrific natural light and a relatively congenial environment. Drama is not without its gritty moments, including a miscarriage, but due to the scrubbed setting and a story that scrupulously follows a formula, it doesn't always serve the harsh truth. Photography and production design would benefit from darker hues. Helmer Fred Gerber doesn't dilly-dally, keeping the action moving at a good clip with competent direction. Script by Layce Gardner blames everything on men. All the convicts are technically innocent, having been mere accessories to the men in their lives. The skewed picture of gender relations stretches down to the male classmates of the heroine's daughter, who tease her cruelly. The most piercing emotions involve separating women from their families. Indeed the half-hour documentary that follows "Prison of Secrets" looks at efforts in New York state to rehabilitate women and lessen the damaging effects on their children. The toll of a prison sentence on a family is worrisome, though of course less telegenic than sex crimes. While this straightforward and sanitized movie does so without much finesse, it highlights the need for justice concerning every aspect of the rapidly growing female prison population. Tech work and supporting perfs are all pro.

Prison of Secrets (Sun. (16), 8-10 p.m., Lifetime) Filmed in Los Angeles by Carroll Newman Prods. in association with Hearst Entertainment. Executive producer, Carroll Newman; co-executive producer, Yvonne Chotzen; co-producer, Melissa Gleason; director, Fred Gerber; writer, Layce Gardner; camera, John Fleckenstein; editor, Lisa Citron; production designer, Philip Dean Foreman; art director, Tim Eckel; sound, Peter Geoco; music, Nan Schwartz Mishkin; casting, Abra Edelman, Elisa Goodman, Wendy Kurtzman. Cast: Stephanie Zimbalist, Dan Lauria, Finola Hughes, Gary Frank, Rusty Schwimmer, Kimberly Russell, Tasia Valenza, Joel Polis, Dale Dickey, Paige Moss, Stephanie Sawyer, Brian Smiar, Janni Brenn, Joel MckInnon Miller, Stephen Quadros, Anita Finlay, Steven Banks, Bertila Damas, Robert David Hall, Dustin MacDonald, Adrienne Smith, Betsy Burke, Joseph J. Tomaska, Shane Edelman, Bob Kopyc, Joe Pichler, Lucky Luciano, Jimmy Shannon, Jennifer Sommerfield, Kelly Wilson, Billy Mayo, Billy Concha, Stephanie Nash, Cynthia Harrison, Daniel Zelman, Cerita Monet Bickemann, Monica Mikala. This movie about conditions for female convicts toes the Lifetime line by rigidly depicting men as the enemy, at the expense of plausibility and complexity. It’s a price worth paying, perhaps. The plight of incarcerated women is a serious matter, as an accompanying documentary “Final Take: Breaking the Chain” shows. Yet what’s going on behind these bars won’t shock anyone in the habit of watching telepics. The standardized treatment puts more than the usual strain on the claim “inspired by true events.” Dan Lauria, the grumpy dad from “The Wonder Years,” turns in a menacing performance as a piggish prison guard. He and other male guards sexually exploit inmates and run a prostitution ring using a prison laundry van. Stephanie Zimbalist (“Rem-ington Steele”) does her best Sally Field imitation as a middle-class mom arrested for murky, white-collar crimes involving real estate. She rejects a plea bargain and is sentenced to 10 years. Within 12 minutes of the opening credits she’s being strip searched at the Delory Beach Women’s Correctional Facility in a fictional Southern California town. She refuses to become the next victim, and after winning her fellow inmates’ respect and enlisting the support of her reluctant radio host husband (Gary Frank), exposes the sordid happenings. At a crucial moment and with the help of the sole female guard she provides affidavits to a senator touring the prison. While not exactly a country club, this slammer has terrific natural light and a relatively congenial environment. Drama is not without its gritty moments, including a miscarriage, but due to the scrubbed setting and a story that scrupulously follows a formula, it doesn’t always serve the harsh truth. Photography and production design would benefit from darker hues. Helmer Fred Gerber doesn’t dilly-dally, keeping the action moving at a good clip with competent direction. Script by Layce Gardner blames everything on men. All the convicts are technically innocent, having been mere accessories to the men in their lives. The skewed picture of gender relations stretches down to the male classmates of the heroine’s daughter, who tease her cruelly. The most piercing emotions involve separating women from their families. Indeed the half-hour documentary that follows “Prison of Secrets” looks at efforts in New York state to rehabilitate women and lessen the damaging effects on their children. The toll of a prison sentence on a family is worrisome, though of course less telegenic than sex crimes. While this straightforward and sanitized movie does so without much finesse, it highlights the need for justice concerning every aspect of the rapidly growing female prison population. Tech work and supporting perfs are all pro.

Popular on Variety

Prison of Secrets

More Film

  • 'Harriet' Movie: Why It Doesn't Mention

    Why 'Harriet' Doesn't Mention the $20 Bill

    In “Harriet,” directed and co-written by Kasi Lemmons, Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery, joined the Underground Railroad and then freed more than 70 people from slavery. (Spoilers about the movie ahead.) Though Tubman died in 1913 at age 91, the movie ends during the Civil War, with Tubman leading a troop of [...]

  • Frank Grillo Maggie Q

    Frank Grillo, Maggie Q to Star in Thriller 'Cutman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Frank Grillo and Maggie Q will star in “Cutman,” a dramatic thriller directed by Michael Mailer and written by Tiffany Heath. Grillo will play an over-the-hill boxer who begins working as the muscle for a local gangster. His life takes an unexpected turn when he meets a young girl whose mother is a heroin addict [...]

  • Jamie Foxx Renee Zellweger Shuzhen Zhao

    Oscar Predictions 2019: Breaking Down the Early Frontrunners

    The Oscar race is on. Renée Zellweger is a sure bet to snag a nomination for her transformation in “Judy” and Adam Driver looks certain to be a nominee for his work in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” In the lead for best picture are movies including “The Irishman,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and [...]

  • Chris Evans Actors on Actors: Film

    Chris Evans Wants to Direct Again, but Needs a Better Script

    Chris Evans (“Knives Out”) is dying to direct a film, he just doesn’t have the material. Evans, who made his directorial debut in 2014 with “Before We Go,” revealed what’s holding him back from a sophomore film — and much more — during a conversation with former co-star Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”) for “Variety Studio: [...]

  • Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Winners 2019

    'Apollo 11,' Bruce Springsteen Among Winners of Critics' Choice Documentary Awards

    “Apollo 11” was the big winner at the fourth annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards on Sunday in New York City. The film took home the award for documentary feature, as well as editing for Todd Douglas Miller and score for Matt Morton. “Apollo 11” was also honored with archival documentary and science/nature documentary prizes. There [...]

  • Austrian Oscar Entry 'Joy' Disqualified for

    Austria's Oscar Entry, 'Joy,' Disqualified for Having Too Much Dialogue in English

    Austria’s contender for the international feature film Oscar has been disqualified from the race for having too much dialogue in English. Sudabeh Mortezai’s “Joy” is the second film to be ruled ineligible to compete for what until this year was known as the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. Last week, the disqualification of Nigeria’s [...]

  • Variety Launches New Video Series, 'Daily

    Variety Launches New Video Series, 'Daily Variety'

    Variety has launched a daily video series covering the business of entertainment. Hosted by Audrey Cleo Yap and executive produced by Eva Wong, “Daily Variety” will feature breaking news coverage and analysis from Variety’s award-winning staff as well as in-depth features and interviews with top industry professionals. Each bite-sized segment and featured clip will be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content