Molly Gross in Deep Family Secrets (1997)

Love in the Family

Joanne Chadway (Molly Gross) has had her patience tested by her mother Rénee (Angie Dickinson) as she has become increasingly convinced that her husband Clay (Richard Crenna) is cheating on her whilst her behaviour has become so erratic that she has disappeared a couple of times only to return again. When one day Rénee disappears yet again and then appears to have been kidnapped, Joanne decides to get to the bottom of things and not only find her mother but learn more about her parent's past. But in doing so Joanne uncovers various skeletons which make her wonder whether her father may be as innocent as he is making out he is.

There is one major negative about trying to make a living from watching and reviewing movies, you end up watching so many that the power a movie might have over some audiences doesn't have the same effect on you. This is the case when it comes to the made for TV thriller "Deep Family Secrets" as this storyline which sees a daughter learn some seedy facts about her parents and how they went from being poor Alabama folk to then having wealth failed to grab me like it has others. Yes it tries to be clever and give us a "who might have done it" element but again that whole guessing game is in itself familiar and the whole movie is simply ordinary.

Richard Crenna in Deep Family Secrets (1997)

Now let me explain; we have the flaky Rénee whose behaviour has caused not only Clay to lose patience with her but also Joanne's brother and sister who don't want anything to do with her. As such when Rénee goes missing again with it first appearing to be a kidnapping and then a murder we have a trio of immediate suspects and then even Rénee's sister may also have cause. So we have suspects and as Joanne tries to find her mum some secrets come out such as Clay not being the biological father of Joanne's brother and sister. There are various other revelations which are kind of entertaining but as I said before, these various revelations are no different to those you could find in other made for TV movies from the 90s causing this to be run of the mill rather than stand out.

In truth it isn't only the storyline which ends a little too familiar for me as the acting as well as the characters are just as ordinary. As such Richard Crenna delivers the mix of charming on the surface but with a touch of sinister lurking beneath whilst Molly Gross gives us the innocence and naivety of a young woman although some times her delivery of dialogue lacks confidence, giving it a learned feel. But then there is Angie Dickinson who steals the show with the hysterics of a paranoid woman in those early scenes.

What this all boils down to is that "Deep Family Secrets" whilst certainly a watchable thriller with a nice level of depth and mystery it also ends up incredibly similar to so many made for TV thrillers from the late 90s where it is all about the revelations and skeletons in the closet.