The second of six original movies made from Mary Higgins Clark’s bestselling novels for family-oriented Pax TV, “Pretend You Don’t See Her” is a safe bet that should reap decent returns, if not points for originality.
The Higgins Clark connection is a big boost into the competitive world of original TV movies for Pax, especially considering the respectable numbers the conservative net received with its first telepic in the franchise, “Loves Music, Loves to Dance.” This production, however, is a reminder of how far the net has to go to play in the big leagues.
The story, seemingly built around the Jerry Vale song of the same name, is an easy-on-the-brain thriller starring former soap queen Emma Samms as Lacey Farrell, a Manhattan real estate agent who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery when she witnesses the death of a client.
Never mind that this new client, Chantal Greco (Laura Press), is a total stranger who’s all too willing to talk to Lacey about the mysterious hit-and-run death of her actress daughter Heather (Kim Poirier). Or that Chantal is all too eager to entrust evidence of her daughter’s murder to Lacey on her deathbed, thereby putting her newfound Realtor’s life in danger.
Lacey, now the key witness in a high-profile murder investigation, is forced to enter the witness relocation program. Never mind that the feds give her a new name that virtually rhymes with her old one. The plucky Lacey just can’t lie low and, armed with copies of Heather’s diary, she starts digging for clues to solve the mystery so she can get her life back.
Samms is fine as Lacey but only because the part never transcends the melodramatic antics for which she became famous on “General Hospital.” While she’s quite appealing, the writers are pushing their luck a bit trying to pass her off as a 30-year-old.
Beau Starr is dependably crusty as Detective Ed Sloan and musters more of an emotional attachment than those portraying Lacey’s onscreen family. Other secondary perfs are forgettable.
Granted, it’s not Higgins Clark best work, but writer Donald Hounam doesn’t translate anything from the page to the screen. The dialogue is so unnatural you can almost see the words on the script pages. When Lacey’s niece gets hit with a bullet meant for Lacey, the little girl’s mother remarks nonchalantly at the hospital, “Kids heal fast.”
Rene Bonniere’s direction is perfunctory; thankfully, he moves the plot along at a brisk pace. Other technical credits are fine, although the set is as sterile as the story. This movie would have us believe that a sophisticated, successful Manhattan real estate broker has the world’s ugliest apartment.
Frank Pellegrine’s performance of the title song is a swanky addition to a rather tone-deaf movie.