Picks and Pans Review: Family Pictures

updated 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Sun., March 21, 9 p.m. ET)

B

If nothing else, this two-parter based on Sue Miller's novel provides Anjelica Huston with the meatiest role of the TV season. Her character, a passionate and volatile mother of six, ages 35 years while blazing through highly charged scenes that range from dancing a flamenco of seductive abandon before a party of intoxicated young suburbanites to sobbing out her despair to her sleeping, autistic son.

The network is billing this story of turbulent dynamics within a large Seattle family from 1948 to 1983 as "a novel for television." In fact, the narrative style is strikingly literary. By TV standards, that makes this movie, which concludes the following night, solemn, slow, talky and quite expansive.

Sam Neill plays Huston's ill-matched husband, an introspective psychiatrist. Kyra Sedgwick and Dermot Mulroney play two of their children making troubled passages into adulthood. Though Family Pictures is slow in developing, it does reward patience. The well-acted film provides a poignant, though maddeningly self-important portrait of the often painful ties that hind us to our families.

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