×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story

Slightly better than spending the evening hanging around with an abusive drunk.

With:
Lois Wilson - Winona Ryder Bill Wilson - Barry Pepper Dr. Clark Burnham - John Bourgeois Matilda Burnham - Rosemary Dunsmore Dora - Ellen Dubin

A mouthful of a title that sounds like a Jacqueline Suzann novel, “When Love Is Not Enough” is slightly better than spending the evening hanging around with an abusive drunk, but not much. Adapted from William G. Borchert’s book by the author and Camille Thomasson, the movie has slightly more bite than recent “Hallmark Hall of Fame” productions, but spends so much time with the long-suffering Mrs. Wilson that her persistence begins to feel as misguidedly stubborn as it does inspirational. Despite earnest performances by Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper, the whole exercise left me wanting a stiff drink.

Opening in 1917, the movie finds Ryder’s young Lois being wooed by and marrying Bill Wilson (Pepper) shortly before he goes off to fight in World War I. He returns and takes a job on the stock exchange, but his bouts of drinking grow increasingly intense and destructive — a weakness that Lois blames on herself, in part, for her inability to bear him a child.

Shades of “The Lost Weekend,” Bill’s alcoholism eventually incapacitates him, at a time when there was no real attempt at treatment other than throwing chronic drunks into the sanitarium. Finally (and I do mean … finally), Bill is introduced to a support group that leads him to co-found Alcoholics Anonymous, while Lois creates Al-Anon as a corresponding resource for spouses.

Along the way, even Lois’ mother (Rosemary Dunsmore) questions the wisdom of her stand-by-your-man loyalty, as Bill breaks one “I’m done with the booze” pledge after another. The movie’s most interesting element, actually, is the rarely seen period it chronicles, carrying through Prohibition and the stock-market crash into the Depression.

Ultimately, though, the history behind AA isn’t as fascinating as it needs to be to animate this sort of endeavor, leaving little to do but admire the central performances. Pepper enjoys the showier role, and he’s fine in it, experiencing cringe-worthy delirium tremens somewhere between Ray Milland in “Weekend” and Nicolas Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas.”

As for Ryder, she effectively spans the movie’s decades from youth to middle age, but is somewhat handcuffed by Lois’ situation. Although the character’s patience is rewarded, an audience choosing to stick with “When Love Is Not Enough” won’t be quite so fortunate.

When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story

CBS, Sun. April 25, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Toronto by E1 Entertainment in association with Hallmark Hall of Fame Prods. Executive producers, Ira Pincus, John Morayniss, Brent Shields; co-executive producer, Peter Duchow; supervising producer, Suzanne Berger; producer, Terry Gould; director, John Kent Harrison; writers, William G. Borchert, Camille Thomasson; based on the book by Borchert;

Crew: Camera, Miroslaw Baszak; production designer, Lindsey Hermer Bell; editor, Ron Wisman; music, Lawrence Shragge; casting, Molly Lopata. 120 MIN.

Cast: Lois Wilson - Winona Ryder Bill Wilson - Barry Pepper Dr. Clark Burnham - John Bourgeois Matilda Burnham - Rosemary Dunsmore Dora - Ellen Dubin

More TV

  • Westworld Season 3 Trailer

    'Westworld' Season 3 Trailer Focuses on New Cast Member Aaron Paul

    Ahead of the final episode of “Game of Thrones,” HBO released the first trailer for the new season of another flagship show: “Westworld.” The first look at the third season of the sci-fi show puts the focus on new series regular Aaron Paul, best known for his run on “Breaking Bad.” The trailer doesn’t reveal [...]

  • Adam Lambert Libertine show, Front Row,

    Adam Lambert Does Double Performing Duty on 'Idol' as New Winner is Crowned

    A new “American Idol” winner was crowned Sunday night, but not before Adam Lambert returned to the stage for the season finale for a pair of performances that included his new single and a duet with eliminated contestant Dimitrius Graham Sunday. The show concluded with Louisiana teen Laine Hardy showered in confetti as he was [...]

  • Beyonce Emilia Clarke

    Emilia Clarke Worried Beyonce Would Hate Daenerys After 'Game of Thrones'' Final Season

    After eight seasons as the Mother of Dragons, “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke has a lot of celebrity fans. But the most impressive? Probably Queen Bey. In a New Yorker interview posted after Sunday night’s series finale, Clarke revealed that she met Beyonce at an Oscars after-party hosted by the musician and her husband, [...]

  • Game of Thrones Finale

    Why the 'Game of Thrones' Finale Couldn't Have Satisfied Everyone

    The “Game of Thrones” finale may have achieved a strange feat: Aiming for fan service while being constrained, by its very nature, to the reality that it would end up pleasing only very few. The episode was larded with character touches designed for devotees — from a title, at long last, for fan favorite Bronn, [...]

  • Game of Thrones Finale

    'Game of Thrones': Celebrity Fans Have Mixed Reaction to Series Finale

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the series finale of “Game of Thrones,” titled “The Iron Throne.”  Whether you loved it or hated it, the series finale of “Game of Thrones” was one for the history books. After the final episode aired Sunday night, fans across the globe took to [...]

  • ‘Game of Thrones’: 8 Shocking Moments

    ‘Game of Thrones’: 8 Shocking Moments From the Finale

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the finale of “Game of Thrones.” Well, that’s it. After the “Game of Thrones” finale, many of us will likely emulate Jon Snow and just retire North of the Wall. It was billed as one of the biggest events in TV history, and showrunners [...]

  • Front row: CBS THIS MORNING co-hosts

    CBS Hurls New Anchor Team Into TV's Morning-News Wars

    News Team: Assemble. CBS News plans to hurl a new anchor squad into TV’s morning-news wars Monday when a different trio – Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil –  takes the helm at “CBS This Morning.” The A.M. effort that has won critical plaudits by focusing on harder news topics, like international affairs and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content