What If God Were the Sun?



9-11 p.m., Monday, May 14

Lifetime's latest, "What If God Were the Sun?" is a rather klunky story looking for some grace -- or gracefulness. Its parts don't always mesh or make sense -- storywise and otherwise -- but anyone who stays with the characters long enough won't come away empty-handed. This woman's drama about a cynical nurse who connects emotionally with a terminally ill patient finds its gracefulness in the end, thought it's not always a smooth ride.

Writers Janet Dulin Jones and Jamie Pachino adapt their story from best-selling author and medium John Edward's book, and therein might lie the reason for such a bumpy story. There's a little bit of ghostliness going on -- objects appear out of nowhere, as if a ghost were hovering, but nothing is ever explained or seems plausible; maybe it's assumed that we're so sophisticated in these matters that we can figure it out for ourselves. Also, characters who are thought to be dead are seen walking around, just as the story gets sidetracked and goes off in another direction entirely. Even the characters who are alive turn up in places or know things that don't always make sense. It's a matter of the story wanting to be too many things and encase too many issues and events.

Still, who cares about such small matters if it means getting to watch Gena Rowlands on the screen? She plays a free-spirited and very wealthy Jewish matron who is dying of cancer. While in a convalescent hospital, she meets up with the story's young heroine, a nurse, played by Lacey Chabert ("Mean Girls," "Party of Five"), whose father has just died and who therefore has unresolved personal issues. The two women connect, and the story takes off.

Director Stephen Tolkin gives the actresses some much needed room to develop their characters. There is some satisfaction in that. Laura Karpman's music is touching and adds a poignant note, just as production designer Tim Bider provides some beautiful surroundings for the two women and Robin Loewen's photography enhances their emotional bond.

The story itself might have too many holes, but the performances are the ties that bind.

Fox Television Studios, JECO Prods. and Old Beantown Films for Lifetime Television
Director: Stephen Tolkin
Teleplay: Janet Dulin Jones, Jamie Pachino
Executive producers: John Edward, Brenda Friend, Gina Rugolo Judd: Producer: Greg Copeland
Based in part on the novel by: John Edward
Associate producer: Bob Rajewski
Music: Laura Karpman
Editor: Gib Jaffe, A.C.E.
Production designer: Tim Bider
Director of photography: Robin Loewen
U.S. casting: Felicia Fasano, C.S.A.
Canadian casting: Forrest & Forrest Casting
Melissa: Gena Rowlands
Jamie: Lacey Chabert
Jeff: Sam Trammell
Rachel: Sarah Rafferty