A Life Interrupted



9 p.m., Monday, April 23

We've been down this road before in much the same way: a Lifetime original movie about rape that emerges from real-life events. When you deal with real offscreen trauma, of course it's compelling, and tragic as well.

When the event makes it to the small screen, especially as often as it has on Lifetime, the drama tends to wear thin if there is nothing original in the telling. "A Life Interrupted" is so heavily armed with cliches and familiar dramatic conceits that it's hard to watch without figuring out in a few minutes what the outcome will be.

Lifetime makes a staple of stories about women of courage -- or, better, women who find courage where they thought none existed inside themselves. To the majority of viewers, these stories no doubt are inspirational. Nevertheless, they often are so familiar in the way they are told that dramatizing true-life stories often robs them of their originality -- if such a thing is possible. This is the case here.

Lea Thompson turns in a great performance as Debbie Smith, who after suffering a horrific rape committed by a man who enters her home gets her life back by fighting the system that seems to want to forget about her.

The form here is flashback, and the mood is, of course, somber. Writer John Wierick makes a valiant attempt to whip up something original, but the odds are against him. Director Stefan Pleszczynski does the same and gets an honest portrayal from Thompson of a woman who is basically shy yet who has to find the strength to go public and to persist until she gets the results she wants.

The pace is a little slow-going at the start, but it picks up steam after the rape just a few minutes into the story. We can't help but get pulled in by Smith's tale of great perseverance and character. The production is handsome, and the cast and crew top-notch.

"Life" is tragic not only because of the events that inspire it but also because so many of these stories show up in the media and still don't always seem to inspire changes in the way our social and justice systems view one person's trauma. Here's another story to add to the pot.