The Essential Wife
Fanny Connelyn (Kathleen Turner - The War of the Roses) and Phillip (Colm Feore - Changeling) along with their daughter were once a happy family unit with Phillip working hard as a writer for a newspaper. But over time the marriage started to fail with Fanny feeling trapped as the exploited little house wife until she has enough and decides they should divorce as she needs more out of life. 12 years later and Fanny and Phillip discover that whilst the divorce wasn't pretty they have grown to be best friends.
When you stumble across a TV movie which is headed by someone of the calibre of Kathleen Turner you have to sit up and pay attention. And it is not just Turner who makes you sit up and pay attention when you watch "Friends at Last" as she has a lot of good actors around her especially Colm Feore as her husband. In fact I will say it straight away, for a TV movie "Friends at Last" is a cut above the norm thanks to the cast and some above average writing.
But the thing about "Friends at Last" is that it is in fact a very simple movie which examines a woman's life from being married, feeling ignored to getting divorced and then discovering as the years pass that her ex-husband is still her best friend. Along the way there are plenty of interesting developments which help create the story such as an early scene where Fanny gets a chance to audition for a play but finds that Phillip is less than keen on her being anything but a house wife. There is also the humour of Fanny being Phillips inspiration when it comes to his newspaper column and has to deal with people reading about what she does and says.
Now whilst I stand by my comments that "Friends at Last" is a cut above the norm for a TV movie it is shall we say a movie slanted towards the female perspective. It is something I am use to having watched many a TV movie but it does make it feel a little one sided especially early on with Phillip's attitude towards Fanny being a little over the top in thinking of her as his little wife. Basically what I am saying is that it doesn't hold back in showing Phillip as being a bit of a jerk with Fanny being the put upon wife. I would have loved for Phillip's character to have had more depth rather than just being a tool, in more ways than one, but it certainly gets its point across by portraying him as one.
But the success of "Friends at Last" is down to the top notch cast who bring to life their characters. Kathleen Turner is completely believable as a wife in her husband's shadow who initially doesn't want to admit there is a problem in her marriage and then struggles after the divorce when Phillip meets another woman. But Feore is just as believable as the self centred husband who only cares for his career and is unable to see the bigger picture when it comes to other people.
What this all boils down to is that "Friends at Last" is thanks to its cast and some smart writing a cut above what you expect from a TV Movie. But at the same time it is also one which is heavily slanted towards a female audience in such a way that some will find it too heavy handed.