Racing for Time
Empty9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16
This Lifetime original movie blends pathos and action and comes up with a plausible, albeit predictable, piece of drama.
With a story inspired by true events, "Racing for Time" is believable not only because it follows the life of a real woman outside the fiction but also because the cast, headed by Charles S. Dutton, manages to blur the line between acting and just being.
The drama, which focuses on one man's efforts to inspire a group of female prison inmates to change their lives, may not be sterling or even original material, but it's easy enough to fall into and absorb.
Dutton plays prison guard Cleveland "Stack" Stackhouse, who gets inspired to do something for the young girls he sees behind bars around him. The girls, of course, have terrible lives, suffering years of sexual and emotional abuse, which by now has landed them in prison. He decides to create an unconventional track program for them, not only to teach them teamwork but to inspire them to do something productive with their lives. Yaya DaCosta plays Vanessa, one of the young girls Stackhouse inspires, and she gives a thoroughly convincing performance.
Also on hand is Elizabeth Pena as the superintendent Stackhouse must persuade to let him go ahead with his plan. The entire cast of young women is believable, even if their characters are less than three-dimensional, to say the least.
Dutton does double duty and directs as well. He keeps the pace fast and fresh, providing an excellent backdrop for the group of girls to learn the ropes of teamwork and self-motivation. He has less than a terrific script to work with from writers Glenn German and Adam Rodgers; it's full of cliches and pat emotional scenes. But Dutton often lifts the story above its own material, enabled by the talent of the young actors he's working with.
"Racing for Time" entertains with enough gutsiness to get by. William Wages' photography is lively, and Lance Anderson's editing is more than impressive. Even if the story has been down the lane many times before, this original movie has more than a few good moments.
RACING FOR TIME
Produced by Von Zerneck/Sertner Films, Tiara Blue Films and Harbor Lights Prods. for Lifetime Television
Executive producers: Bob Sertner
Frank Von Zerneck
Rocky Lang, Lauren Dale
Co-executive producer: Charles S. Dutton
Producers: Peter Sadowski, Christopher Morgan
Co-producer: Laurence Ducceschi
Teleplay: Glenn German, Adam Rodgers
Director: Charles S. Dutton
Music: The Angel
Editor: Lance Anderson
Production designer: James A. Gelarden
Director of photography: William Wages
Casting: Robi Reed & Associates
Cleveland "Stack" Stackhouse: Charles S. Dutton
Superintendent Pamela Flores: Elizabeth Pena
Vanessa: Yaya DaCosta
Carmen: Zulay Henao
Cheryl: Saige Thompson