Here's a TV movie that takes a tawdry true story and tries to do too much with it. In the process, though, it has a number of affecting and revealing moments.
The basis for Suburban Madness is the 2002 case of Houston-area dentist Clara Harris, who killed her husband and professional partner, David, by running him over with her Mercedes-Benz in a hotel parking lot. The film starts with the shocking crime, then backs up to tell the tangled tale of how Clara (Elizabeth Peña) and her step-daughter came to follow David (Brett Cullen) to the fateful tryst with his mistress (Kate Greenhouse).
The film takes the point of view of Bobbi Bacha (Sela Ward), the private eye hired by Clara to tail David, and it spends too much time exploring the influence of Bobbi's work on her cynicism toward men and her relationships with her husband (Matt Cooke) and daughter. But Peña gives a powerful performance as a wronged woman who goes from lashing out at her husband to piously forgiving him to desperately making herself over in a failed bid to win him back. Finally, Clara loses herself in rage.