Convicted: A Mother's Story (1987)
Jillian's Doing TV Movie Time
Mother of two Elizabeth Nickerson (Ann Jillian) works at a cab company in charge of the businesses finances. But away from work she is dating Van (Kiel Martin) a low life with some dodgy friends. Desperate for money Van convinces Elizabeth to steal some money out of the business but it doesn't go unnoticed and Elizabeth gets arrested for embezzling $10,000. Sentenced to 3 years in jail Elizabeth's sister Janice (Gloria Loring) takes in her children Tiffany (Christa Denton) and Matthew (Fred Savage). Whilst prison isn't as bad as Elizabeth expected with only the advances of a lesbian to contend with things take a turn for the worse when Matthew runs away leading the State to want to place him up for adoption.
"Convicted: A Mother's Story" has that feel of a movie which was inspired by a true story yet to my knowledge it isn't based on any specific true story. As such it would be fair to say that whilst it has an original story it also ends up familiar with that same tone which dominated made for TV movies from the 80s and various episodes which also feel familiar. Although having said that those episodes in the prison are not packed full of the cliches which you tend to find in made for TV movies which take us in to a prison environment.
As such whilst we have a set up which establishes Elizabeth's naivety when it comes to boyfriend Van and has her reluctantly stealing money from her bosses company the real story starts when she ends up sentenced to 3 years in prison. But as I said it doesn't go down the completely cliche route and doesn't show Elizabeth having a completely terrible time in prison but really only having to deal with the advances of a lesbian who gives her a wake up call over her naive belief that Van will be concerned for her. In truth whilst this makes the prison side of the story a little weak it does make a pleasant change to all the usual cliches you normally get.
But then we have the real drama which is the fight for the custody of Elizabeth's children when the troubled Matthew runs away and in doing so triggering the system which wants to put him in to a foster home and up for adoption. I won't go into detail or tell you how this plays out other than to say again it lacks something like the prison segments do. It isn't that "Convicted: A Mother's Story" doesn't have drama but it lacks atmosphere and tension to make it really come to life and keep a grip on your attention.
Part of the trouble with "Convicted: A Mother's Story" is that the acting is only okay and whilst Ann Jillian is watchable as Elizabeth there are times when she lacks the strong support of a fellow actor to make it come to life. There is of course a young Fred Savage who at this point in his young career had yet to win over audiences hearts with "The Wonder Years" yet he shows some of that talent which would make him popular with audiences just a year or two down the line.
What this all boils down to is that "Convicted: A Mother's Story" is only an okay made for TV movie from back in the 80s which now is only really interesting for fans of Ann Jillian and those who are interested in seeing how different made for TV movies were during the 80s as to how they are now.
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