Murder Without Conviction (2004)
Proving Proval Innocent
Have you ever watched one of those made for TV movies about a civilian deciding to solve a crime, roping in a handsome young detective and calling upon an old friend to help. The chances are you have because it is a frequently used set up in made for TV murder mysteries and "Murder Without Conviction" delivers exactly the same as a former nun decides to try and solve a 30 year old murder with the help of a handsome detective and a Nun from the convent. But what makes "Murder Without Conviction" that little bit more interesting is the circumstances as the key to the murder are twin savants who whilst not convicted of murder were accused of it and have spent 30 years separated living in institutions for the mentally handicapped and could solve the mystery if reunited. It doesn't mean that "Murder Without Conviction" is good in fact it is a typical made for TV murder mystery but if you enjoy these easy to watch TV movies it works.
Having decided that life as a nun is not for her Christine Bennett (Megan Ward - California Man) leaves St. Stephen's Convent for life on the outside where she moves into her late aunt's home nearby to Greenwillows residential care facility where her handicapped cousin Gene (Matt Lutz) lives. But Greenwillows is under threat of closure because they have recently taken in James Talley (David Proval - Just Desserts) who along with his twin brother Edward are savants who 30 years earlier were suspected of murdering their mother despite there being no evidence to prove it. Determined to help Greenwillows, Christine with the help of Det. Brooks (Morgan Weisser) and Mother Joseph (Patty Duke - Miracle on the Mountain: The Kincaid Family Story) sets about proving that James and Edward didn't murder their mother but the only way they can is by uniting the twins who have been kept apart ever since the murder.
So for the most "Murder Without Conviction" is just your typical made for TV murder mystery with elements you will find in countless other TV movies. Take the pretty and pleasant Catherine she finds herself getting the help of the handsome of Det. Brooks who of course takes a liking to her. Then there is Mother Joseph who may be a woman of the cloth but is a quirky old coot with a bit of a mischievous streak. They are all familiar characters making up a familiar sort of movie where not only do we have a variety of suspects but of course the real murderer tries to prevent Christine from succeeding.
That is the ordinary but still entertaining side of "Murder Without Conviction" but then we have the more interesting aspect of the twin savants. I say interesting in a loose sense because in truth the importance of them being twin savants is that they are unable to function when kept apart and so when they are united we know they will recall exactly what happened on the day of their mother's murder. Unfortunately whilst we have the far fetched but entertaining idea of bringing everyone together who were involved in the twins life 30 years earlier it is a little too obvious as to who the murderer is.
And that to be honest is about it, Megan Ward does do lovely very well making Christine Bennett a very, maybe overly, pleasant character whilst Patty Duke delivers a bit of mischief as Mother Joseph and has that twinkle in her eye when doing so. But in truth the most captivating performance comes from David Proval who plays the adult versions of James and Edward. Now I don't know how authentic Proval is playing a savant as he rocks back and forth for most of the movie but with the nice editing job there is some amusing dark humour when we have James and Edward reunited, recalling facts with a sense of irony.
What this all boils down to is that if you enjoy those afternoon made for TV movies which deliver a simple murder mystery you will most likely enjoy "Murder Without Conviction". It is purely a typical made for TV murder mystery movie but has some nice moments none more so in the dark humour of the scene where James and Edward are together.
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