Picks and Pans Review: The Long Island Incident
Show of the week
Carolyn McCarthy's life has that tragedy-into-triumph element so loved by the makers of TV movies. In 1993 her husband was killed and her adult son was seriously wounded when a homicidal gunman opened fire inside a commuter train carrying them from New York City to their Long Island suburb. While nursing her son to a near-miraculous recovery, she became an activist, lobbying successfully in Washington for a gun-control measure. Outraged when her congressman later voted to repeal it, she ran against him in 1996 and won. Great dramatic arc, but the story has a problem from a producer's point of view: how to tell it without taking a strong political stand, something the commercial networks tend to avoid. To its credit, this film from Barbra Streisand's production company refuses to play that game. It's not afraid to be unambiguously pro gun-control. Regrettably the scenes of the heroine (intensely played by Laurie Metcalf) in Washington sometimes have a blatantly Hollywood touch: Citizen McCarthy out-argues a National Rifle Association lobbyist as news cameras roll; spectator McCarthy shouts rhetoric from the House gallery—in a chamber packed as if for the State of the Union address. The drama is at its best and truest when it focuses on the relationship between McCarthy and son Kevin (Mackenzie Astin) and when it allows Metcalf to speak McCarthy's own heartfelt words, as in her statement at the killer's sentencing hearing.
Bottom Line: A qualified "yes" vote