Picks and Pans Review: Guilt by Association
Court TV's first original movie makes its case loud and clear: Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are bad.
Mercedes Ruehl stars as Susan, innocent victim and widowed mother of two. When she discovers that her boyfriend Russell (Alex Carter) is selling drugs, Susan makes him promise to stop. He goes back on his word; she breaks up with him. So she's clean, right? Think again. When Russell's drug ring is brought to justice, Susan gets 20 years as a coconspirator. The judge says he has no discretion in sentencing, although there's every reason to believe that Susan's involvement—if any—was unwitting and peripheral.
"What's wrong with this system? How can this happen?" Susan cries in prison. And she has many more words to that effect. Though Ruehl is not innocent of overacting when Susan vents outrage, you have to sympathize with someone in her nightmarish situation. The problem with the film is its relentlessly black-and-white approach. The prosecutor isn't merely overzealous; he seems to take satisfaction in destroying Susan's "cozy little middle-class life."
Bottom Line: Okay, we get the message