Picks and Pans Review: Benefit of the Doubt

updated 08/09/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/09/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Donald Sutherland, Amy Irving

In this plodding, predictable thriller, Irving plays a single mother barely making a go of it as a waitress in a small-town topless bar in Arizona. Her father (Sutherland), released from prison after being convicted (largely on his daughter's testimony) 22 years ago of killing his wife, returns to town intent upon creating again a family for himself with Irving and her son (Rider Strong). He tells her she was mistaken about what she thought she saw that night all those years ago; that her mother's death was an accident. Eventually, Irving believes him. Big mistake.

Sutherland is creepily amusing as he carries on about family values. Irving tries hard as the mother but is eventually reduced to the sort of standard female-in-distress shrieking this sort of role always calls for. Benefit marks the feature directorial debut of Jonathan Heap, who may yet make a better movie if he gets a more original script. (R)

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