Picks and Pans Review: A Date with Darkness

updated 08/18/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/18/2003 01:00AM

Lifetime (Mon., Aug. 11, 9 p.m. ET)

When a drama is ripped from the headlines, it's often ragged at the edges. So it is with this TV movie about Andrew Luster (Boomtown's Jason Gedrick), who disappeared last January while on trial in California for drugging and raping three women. (He was convicted in absentia.) In June, while A Date with Darkness was being made, Luster was captured in Mexico. Suddenly the filmmakers needed a new conclusion, so they slapped a phony-looking beard on Gedrick and shot a perfunctory scene of the fugitive grappling with bounty hunters who take him by surprise.

The rest of the drama is somewhat better than the ending, thanks in large part to Gedrick's effectively creepy performance. Though the teleplay has little to say about how the wealthy great-grandson of cosmetics king Max Factor developed into a sexual predator, Gedrick offers a convincing portrayal of Luster as a man whose cool arrogance exceeds his intelligence.

On the down side, the courtroom scenes are directed with such a heavy hand that you'll wish someone would draft a law against overuse of the fish-eye lens.

BOTTOM LINE: Some good acting in a so-so drama

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