The Deliverance of Elaine (1996)

The Deliverance of Elaine (1996)
 
 

Seeking Deliverance

Mare Winningham in The Deliverance of Elaine (1996)

Elaine Hodges (Mare Winningham - The War) has lived in the small town of Newmarket all her life where her days now exist of working as a school teacher, going to church on Sundays and caring for her wheelchair bound father Addison (Lloyd Bridges - Blown Away) who is both cantankerous and cunning in his old age. Despite having missed out on romance because of her devotion to her father she doesn't mind as she loves him and she has taken warmth in writing to a convict by the name of Charlie Skyler (Chris Cooper - Lonesome Dove). When Skyler gets paroled he writes to Elaine that not only is he coming to see her but also that they have a much deeper connection.

I must be in a forgiving mood because I have a feeling if I was having a bad day I might be inclined to rip into "The Deliverance of Elaine" because of some serious contrivances none more so than a scene where Elaine adds perfume to her letter to Charlie without knowing much about him, what he is in for and so on. There are other contrivances which would normally frustrate me but somehow I found myself becoming more and more engaged with this drama despite it appearing to having a highly telegraphed side. As such I had better say that the rest of this review contains spoilers which have to be mentioned to explain the movie.

Chris Cooper in The Deliverance of Elaine (1996)

Now early on in "The Deliverance of Elaine" we learn that Elaine suffers a reoccurring dream of the night which a robber entered the home and her father was shot leading to him being wheelchair bound and her mother killed. It immediately makes you aware to the possibility that maybe just maybe Charlie Skyler is the man who killed her mother and through a huge coincidence just happens to have found himself in touch with Elaine. And then when Charlie comes to the town of Newmarket you kind of suspect that maybe he is looking to redeem himself for his actions and the imprisonment which he has forced upon Elaine by leaving her to have to care for her grumpy old father. Is that what happens well I am not going to tell you but it certainly makes you think along that path.

But "The Deliverance of Elaine" has other angles none more so than the fact that Elaine who remembers little of the night and her father refusal to talk about it suspects he is hiding something about the shooting. On the subject of her father we have the antagonistic relationship between him and Edna the carer and her father's crafty ways of smuggling booze into the house, a seemingly irrelevant series of scenes till one where he comes face to face with Charlie. And then there is another layer surrounding the local cop Tim who was in love with Elaine but we are lead to believe that her devotion to her father brought an end to their romance despite having feelings for ach other many years later. All of these start to add an element of mystery to the movie as we begin to question are own predictions as to what the connection is between Charlie and Elaine and in doing so it takes us on a surprising journey of twists.

Now as I said "The Deliverance of Elaine" has its problems with some huge contrivances but it also has good actors delivering good performances. There is something simply warm about Mare Winningham which makes us feel for her even though she comes across as happy with her life. At the same time Chris Cooper delivers an intriguing performance of a man who you are aware is dangerous but you begin to wonder what his mystery is. It is down to these performances as well as that from Lloyd Bridges which makes "The Deliverance of Elaine" easy to watch even though you know in your heart it is convoluted and contrived.

What this all boils down to is that "The Deliverance of Elaine" like many TV movies has its problems when it comes to the validity of the story but it also has good actors delivering performances which are in truth greater than the movie.

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