Scheming in Savannah
"Everything She Ever Wanted" is one of those two part mini-series which now often gets broadcast as a 3 hour movie and is based on a true story. Now this sort of thing is right up my street, a movie based on a true story surrounding a scheming woman who not only is dangerous enough to kill people but also dangerous in other ways be it sexually manipulating men, accusing others of sexual assault and a lot more. Basically "Everything She Ever Wanted" is a femme fatale movie which doesn't shy away from making this clear early on and then basically playing on whether or not she is also guilty of a murder someone else is sentenced for.
When Tom Allanson (Ryan McPartlin - A Perfect Christmas) divorces his wife and mother of his two children and remarries Pat (Gina Gershon - P.S. I Love You) his father, Savannah lawyer Walter (Victor Garber) not only disapproves of his choices but disowns him. It leads to increasing bitterness between father and son especially when someone takes shots at Walter whilst driving with his wife and he tells the police it was most likely Tom. So when one night Walter and his wife are murdered the police suspect Tom of being the killer and with Pat persuading Tom not to take a plea bargain he ends up in prison. But was it Tom as with money tight and the possibility of having to sell the ranch which she persuaded Tom to buy Pat has been poisoning his grandparents who had moved in with them having already garnered favour with them to make sure her name is in the will.
The trouble with "Everything She Ever Wanted" is partly that it makes it too obvious to early on as to what is going on. The opening scene sees Pat being interviewed with her telling her story, the sort of thing used in lots of true story movies and whilst relying purely on a close up of her face you can assume she is either being interrogated by police or by a writer visiting her in prison. Having said that Gina Gershon's strong yet cold voicing during these scenes makes for a fantastic character especially as it is the complete opposite of how Pat is portrayed through out the movie. In fact following the initial interview scene we see her wedding to Tom a "Gone With the Wind" inspired wedding which seems so over the top it is comical.
Now because of the way "Everything She Ever Wanted" is set up with this interview style narration you already have in your mind that Pat is a schemer, that she is capable of doing something which could see her being interviewed. As such what we have is a bit of a cliche set up with Tom's father disapproving of him marrying this woman, a woman who to be honest we get very little background to, and we also see how Tom is easily manipulated by her using sex as a tool to get what she wants. Anyway as the story or at least the first half of the movie plays out we get the increasing feud between Tom and his father with Pat saying that his father sexually assaulted her, we see the killing and how the police suspect Tom thanks to dodgy evidence from his ex wife, we see Pat poisoning his grandparents to get money and her sister becoming suspicious. That is the first half and culminates with Pat's arrest for the poisoning after arsenic is found in the blood stream of Tom's granddad following a stroke.
But as I said that is the first half and if the second half had focussed on a court case or something it would have been half good. Unfortunately what we watch is after Pat is released ends up to her old tricks with the poison and another person and whilst I will leave it there as to what happens in the second half not only does the movies structure make it predictable but it also feels repetitive.
What this means is that "Everything She Ever Wanted" ends up becoming all about how Gina Gershon handles herself as Pat, a femme fatale character and the good news is that Gershon handles herself well. Gershon exudes sexiness and a vibrancy which immediately grabs you yet at the same time we become very aware that she is demanding and determined to get her way which builds nicely into a nefarious side. But as I said that works brilliantly with the clashing interview scenes where in close up we hear Gershon more subdued, more controlled and a lot more cold to the point of being heartless in her description of what she did as if it was normal. The knock on effect of this is that whilst we have other characters and actors including Victor Garber, Ryan McPartlin and Rachel Blanchard this movie is all about Gershon.
What this all boils down to is that "Everything She Ever Wanted" could have been a decent movie but suffers from one major flaw and that is making it far too obvious that Gershon's character Pat is a femme fatale character. It sucks a lot the mystery and thrill out of the story and turns it into a showcase for Gina Gershon shining as a dangerous woman.