This Hollywood biopic may answer some questions about how Natalie Wood drowned in 1981, but at least one mystery remains: Why does the film have to run three hours?
Though the story is told mostly through dramatization, with Justine Waddell (Dracula 2000) adequate but unmemorable in the title role, director Peter Bogdanovich includes numerous snippets of interviews with people who knew Wood. Except for her sister Lana, none of them says anything interesting. The witness parade only pads the film; archival photos and newspaper headlines are enough to give it a faux-documentary feeling.
The villain of the teleplay is Wood's relentless Russian mother (Alice Krige), who pushes her into child stardom and keeps filling her head with fears. Every time you think Wood has freed herself from Mama's clutches, the nag is back and the battle resumes. As for Wood's two marriages to Robert Wagner (Michael Weatherly of Navy NCIS; see page 99), we see too much of his jealousy and not enough of whatever drew them together.