Picks and Pans Review: Chasing Freedom

updated 01/26/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/26/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

DRAMA

Court TV (Mon., Jan. 19, 9 p.m. ET)

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Definitely not to be confused with the lightweight Mandy Moore flick Chasing Liberty, this earnest TV movie concerns an ambitious corporate lawyer (Juliette Lewis) who finds her conscience while representing a persecuted Afghan woman (Kabul-born actress Layla Alizada) asking for asylum in the United States.

The drama deals intelligently, if didactically, with the important issue of how this country can keep out potential terrorists and still retain its identity as a safe haven for legitimate political refugees. The two leads give strong performances, but Lewis in particular is hurt by the script's predictable character development. At first the attorney is too preoccupied with her big-money cases to put down her cell phone and pay serious attention to the asylum-seeker. Inevitably, though, Lewis becomes so outraged by the brutality of the Taliban and the coldness of the U.S. immigration system that this pro bono mission is all she cares about. Her transition from careerist to crusader doesn't leave enough room for realistic ambivalence.

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