Hidden Blessings

The eighth in 10 original movies for Black Entertainment Television, “Hidden Blessings” tries very hard to be both a murder mystery and a romance. Unfortunately, it’s neither very mysterious nor at all romantic. In fact, the entire telepic feels like a rough draft, from a paint-by-the-numbers script to jagged camera movement to one-note performances.

With:
Brandy Taylor - Cynda Williams
Jackson Gray - Marc Gomes
Carrie McNichols - Kim Fields
Det. Bolden - Frank Roman
David Lindsey - Thyme Lewis
Shari Gray - Cat Jagar
Mona Taylor - Gloria Gifford
Lt. Washington - Bill Lee Brown

The eighth in 10 original movies for Black Entertainment Television, “Hidden Blessings” tries very hard to be both a murder mystery and a romance. Unfortunately, it’s neither very mysterious nor at all romantic. In fact, the entire telepic feels like a rough draft, from a paint-by-the-numbers script to jagged camera movement to one-note performances.

Cynda Williams (“Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”) plays Detective Brandy Taylor, whom we meet as she goes a bit too far while arresting a wife beater. It turns out that Brandy used to watch her father hit her mom and she still hasn’t gotten over her anger, refusing to date any men at all and having no patience whatsoever for perpetrators of domestic violence. When she begins to investigate the murder of Shari Gray (Cat Jagar), Brandy’s suspicions immediately and stubbornly fall on Shari’s architect husband, Jackson (Marc Gomes).

The audience already suspects Brandy is wrong, since we saw Jackson leave the house after arguing with his wife, and saw him as he woke up to discover the murder. But Jackson knows he sure looks guilty, so he comes up with a false alibi with the help of his assistant Carrie McNichols (Kim Fields). When Brandy can’t immediately pin the murder on him, she decides to date her suspect, hoping to elicit a confession. In the process, she begins to fall for him.

None of this is even slightly believable, but that’s not really the point. This is melodrama, pure and simple, and the yarn itself is straightforward enough to sustain interest, but the execution here is so poor that it makes daytime soaps look classy and sophisticated. The script by Stacey McClain-Fields contains so much excess verbiage that the film feels twice as long as it is, and Gregory Darryl Smith’s score is unbearably treacly. While Cynda Williams, who was outstanding in Carl Franklin’s “One False Move,” is clearly a talented actress, the performance here is so choppy that it’s hard to follow the character’s psychological arc, which is the driving force behind the formulaic narrative. Tech credits are mediocre.

Hidden Blessings

BET; Fri., April 7, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Directors’ Filmworks Prods. in association with BET Pictures. Executive producers, Roy Campanella II, Njeri Karago; co-executive producers, Robert L. Johnson, Debra Lee; supervising producer, Roderick Plummer; associate producers, Juanita Presley, Sylvain White; line producer, Michael Beugg; director, Timothy Wayne Folsome; writer, Stacey McClain-Fields, based on the novel by Jacquelin Thomas.[###]

Crew: Cinematographer, Keith Smith; production design, Warren Young; music Gregory Darryl Smith; editor, Nicholas Eliopoulos; casting, Tony Lee, Akua Campanella, Patrick Cunningham. 2 HOURS.

Cast: Brandy Taylor - Cynda Williams
Jackson Gray - Marc Gomes
Carrie McNichols - Kim Fields
Det. Bolden - Frank Roman
David Lindsey - Thyme Lewis
Shari Gray - Cat Jagar
Mona Taylor - Gloria Gifford
Lt. Washington - Bill Lee Brown

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