She coped courageously with a rare brain disorder and high-risk surgery, then had to face the death of a daughter in the Columbine High School massacre of 1999. A dyed-in-the-wool cynic might say that the true story of Dawn Anna has "Lifetime movie" written all over it. This film, however, is tasteful, moving and tearful only when it has a perfect right to be.
Debra Winger, under the direction of husband Arliss Howard, gives a deeply felt but well-modulated performance as a divorced math teacher and volleyball coach raising four children on her own while dealing with a health crisis that saps the strength her kids have always depended on. Several supporting players also distinguish themselves, including Alex Van as the persistent new man in Dawn's life, Greg Lawson as the doctor who has to keep giving her bad news, and an uncredited Howard as her wryly supportive physical therapist. You'll care about Dawn and grieve with her when the shock of Columbine hits.