Writer Adam Greenman shows how a couple of distressed femmes reach out to a crisis line, particularly stunning Gail O’Grady, late of “NYPD Blue.” Director Kenneth Fink, who’s pulled duty on “Homicide,” manages to give the drama doses of grit, thus saving the vidpic from total suds immersion.
Purposeful but scarcely loaded with new material, “Every 9 Seconds” does point out that that’s how often a woman is battered in the U.S. One’s a married, drinking mom, the other a love-stricken teenager.
O’Grady plays blonde Janet, whose husband Richard (Christopher Meloni in a good take as a sly wife-beater) comes home unannounced. After 18 months in the pokey for beating up on Janet, Richard’s still menacing, but insists he wants to see his terrified daughter and pick up life as it was, despite a restraining order no one pays heed to.
Janet gets daughter April (Cassandra Van Wyck) away, and now Richard’s hot to punish his wife. Boozed up, Janet finally contacts the woefully short-handed women’s crisis line, where she vaguely talks with newcomer Carrie (Amy Pietz). She hangs up before Carrie can do much but hear the name of a liquor shop where Janet picks up her booze.
Carrie, who also happens to be a reporter, drops the phone and, against crisis center rules, leaves to track down Janet to save her. The liquor store scene is a long reach.
Scripter Greenman feeds in another story, this one simultaneous with Janet’s woes. Innocent 16-year-old Missy (Emily Hampshire) has been seeing that bum Greg (Scott Speedman), who keeps telling her he loves her. Everyone knows he’s no good, but she thinks he’s wonderful. He becomes forceful, and first thing she knows she’s on the crisis line.
Carrie’s been living for a long time with her editor, Ray (Michael Riley), pleasant chap who puts up with a couple of Carrie’s surprisingly cutting remarks. (Carrie’s got her own past baggage to put up with.) Now Ray’s into helping Carrie help Janet, so no one knows who’s putting the paper out.
There’s an effective turn by Sean McCann as a tough correctional counselor for men who bully their women. Richard pays a reluctant visit, but it obviously doesn’t take since he turns up at the house for a fracas, and he and Janet dramatically end up atop a tall building.
Why Carrie or somebody doesn’t call the cops when Richard first makes himself known to them isn’t clear, though there are attempts at explaining it away by noting that Carrie’s left her cell phone at home, and one public telephone’s out of commish.
The briefer Missy-Greg story turns out as expected, which is a shame: The situation, with both Hampshire and Speedman delivering believable performances, might have been worked into a strong dramatic counterplay to the Janet-Richard story. As it is, the less-than-riveting Missy-Greg tale is only a disappointing illustration of a statistic.
Djanet Sears offers a commanding crisis line supervisor, with an interesting Lindsay Connell as Deb, the only other operator on duty.
Production designer Alistair Macrae has been resourceful, and Ken Kelsch’s camerawork, Paul Dixon’s superior editing all give the telefilm a rich aspect. Peter Rodgers Melnick’s score is accommodating.