Dealing with Death

Maury Chaykin and Diane Keaton in Crossed Over (2002)

When her 18 year old son is killed in a hit-and-run novelist Beverly Lowry (Diane Keaton) sinks into a deep depression, unable to move on with her life despite her husband Ethan (Maury Chaykin) doing his supportive best to help her. When Beverly learns via a psychic that it was a woman behind the wheel of the car she becomes obsessed with learning of the guilt that a woman who killed would feel. Her obsession leads her to infamous Karla Faye Tucker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is on death row waiting to be the first white woman executed in over a century.

Watching a movie as an outsider some times can be a rewarding experience, other times it becomes hard work and unfortunately as a Brit living in the UK with no connection or knowledge of the true story "Crossed Over" is one of those which is hard going. It has that feel of a movie made for those who already know the story rather than those who like me come to the movie as a blank slate.

Jennifer Jason Leigh in Crossed Over (2002)

What we get in "Crossed Over" is firstly the story of Beverly who in need to find her own closure by understanding what a killer feels finds it but also becomes friends with death row inmate Karla. At the same time as Karla talks to Beverly and unburdens herself begins to change with the real Karla coming out. And that is fine enough but the impact of it isn't there, we have two women who talk, get to know and understand each other and that is it except of course one of them is facing death.

What is a shame is that "Crossed Over" in the scenes of Beverly and Karla has that feel of a stage play and so focuses on the ability of the actors to make the characters work in this intense one on one situation. And both Diane Keaton and Jennifer Jason Leigh are very good when it just focused on them, controlling the scene with their dialogue and emotion. Unfortunately when it expands out and focuses on Beverly's home life it loses that power and becomes ordinary in its examination of grief although allows for Maury Chaykin to exhibit what a good actor he is when given the right role

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Crossed Over" features some good performances it plays out more like a movie for those who are already aware of the story and friendship which formed between Beverly Lowry and Karla Faye Tucker. And when it isn't focusing on them it ends up becoming just a routine examination of grief and how in this case it affects a mother as well as an unusual friendship which forms out of it.

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