Picks and Pans Review: A Bridge to Silence
updated 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
First off, it's preposterous that Lee Remick is playing Marlee Matlin's mom. They look nothing alike. But that's only one bridge to credibility that has to be crossed in this two-hour TV movie about a demonstrative mother who wages war against her hearing-impaired daughter. Matlin, who won an Oscar for Children of a Lesser God, stars as a young married woman living in Washington, D.C., with a 4-year-old daughter. Tragedy strikes before the first commercial, when her husband is killed in an auto wreck. While Matlin is grieving over her loss, Remick, thinking her daughter emotionally unfit, tries to legally adopt her granddaughter. Caught in the battle between the two women is Matlin's namby-pamby pop, played by Josef Sommer (who as it happens doesn't look anything more like Matlin than Remick does). How the poor guy suffers as he suggests the difficulties of trying to build a bridge over a troubled daughter. Matlin, making her onscreen speaking debut, tells Remick, "I'm deaf, but you're the one who can't hear." At such moments music swells while Remick buries her head in her hands, then thrusts it back pridefully. Of course what the events of these two hours are leading up to is the climactic BIG MOTHER-DAUGHTER HUG. In the midst of all of this grand emotion is Michael O'Keefe. He portrays a theater director who gets Matlin out of her depression, taking her to Michigan and casting her in the role of Laura in The Glass Menagerie. In addition, he gives her the obligatory "being different is nothing to be ashamed of" speech. The beautiful, emotionally moving Matlin is too good for this well-intentioned but sentimental slop.