Richard Crenna and Joanne Woodward in Passions (1984)

Woodward Gets Stern

Businessman Richard Kennerly (Richard Crenna - First Blood) is having his cake and eating it as whilst he has been happily married to Catherine (Joanne Woodward - Sybil) for over 20 years and have a daughter he has also been secretly carrying on with artist Nina (Lindsay Wagner - Nighthawks) who he has had a son with and has set up in a beach side home. Whilst Catherine is oblivious to Nina and Richard's extra marital relationship, Nina is fully aware of Catherine and quietly accepts the situation as it is. But that all changes when all of a sudden Richard is struck down by a debilitating illness which leads to Catherine not only learning about Nina and her son but coming face to face with the other woman.

Take a routine plot line of an unfaithful husband leading a secret double life and place it in the hands of a director and actors who shun what is typical and you end up with "Passions" a grown up TV movie. Basically what I am saying is that the storyline to "Passions" is a familiar one but the acting, the characters, the depth and plenty more is not what you would expect to find in a TV movie. It makes it on one hand an easy movie to watch due to a certain amount of familiarity but interesting because there is more to it than you would normally find in your common all garden TV movies.

Lindsay Wagner and Richard Crenna in Passions (1984)

So as to that familiar side well it doesn't take a genius to work out that at some point Catherine and Nina are going to end up coming face to face and their will be recriminations when this happens. You know that Catherine will most likely feel anger towards Nina for being a hussy whilst Nina will find things a struggle without Richard's support.

But there is more to "Passions" than just the surface entertainment usually found in these sorts of made for TV movies. For starters Richard has been secretly buying the sculptures which Nina creates and using them to decorate his home with Catherine. There are also Richard's own moral feelings over his affair whilst his daughter played by Heather Langenkamp wants to live with her boyfriend. And there is a lot more depth to this drama especially in the way it plays out when everything comes out and Catherine has to deal with her husband's betrayal which will take you by surprise.

What also helps "Passions" is the calibre of its cast and we have performances which are a far cry from what you expect from a TV movie. The actors play real people with real conflict and don't deliver the usual soap-opera style dramatics which you expect from a TV movie. It helps that director Sandor Stern doesn't treat the movie as just a melo-drama and does some interesting things which you don't normally see in a TV movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Passions" is a TV movie which even if you are not a fan of the genre is well worth a watch due to its interesting take on a familiar storyline.