Picks and Pans Review: Crossed Over
"Karla Faye Tucker was the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War," Beverly Lowry (Diane Keaton) tells the audience at the start of this TV movie. "You would think...this would be a story about her death. But in fact it's a story about life, my life, and how this haunted girl gave it back to me."
That's precisely the problem with Crossed Over: misplaced emphasis. We want more about convicted killer Tucker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and less about Lowry, the writer who befriended her.
Many of those who petitioned then-Gov. George W. Bush to spare Tucker from lethal injection cited her Christian awakening in prison. Supporters of the death sentence, carried out in 1998, pointed to the brutality of the 1983 double murder in which she participated. Leigh's skillfully shaded characterization—by turns sullen, angry, caring and sweet helps explain how the same woman could be perceived in such radically different ways.
Lowry, too, is not easy to figure out, but her part of the story is more a muddle than a puzzle. Paralyzed by grief over the hit-and-run accident that took the life of her teenage son, Lowry initially visits Tucker as some kind of emotional outlet. She expects to hate the death-row inmate but winds up confiding in her and championing her cause. The evolving relationship, like Keaton's performance, is less than convincing. When Lowry's husband (Maury Chaykin) suggests she seek therapy, you may find yourself agreeing.
Bottom Line: Flawed execution