Picks and Pans Review: Promises in the Dark
Marsha Mason gives an able performance as a dour MD struggling to save a 17-year-old beauty (Kathleen Beller) from cancer. Doctor and patient become friends and as Beller bravely faces death, Mason is compelled to put some order in her own unkempt life. Susan Clark and Ned Beatty deftly portray Beller's detached mother and indecisive father. The characters are all believable enough, but their fiercely pent-up emotions are never really exposed. Though he attempts to address the subject of death without lapsing into the maudlin, producer Jerome (Coming Home) Hellman makes a timid, cold and uneven debut as a director. The movie is ultimately unsatisfying: There won't be a wet eye in the house. (PG)
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