Face Value: The Marla Hanson Story (1991)

Dale Midkiff and Cheryl Pollak in Face Value: The Marla Hanson Story (1991)

Beauty and the Beast

Having arrived in New York Marla Hanson (Cheryl Pollak - Pump Up the Volume) tries to make it as a model whilst working in a bar in order to make ends meet. But as one of many life is hard until she meets photographer Eric Warner (Dale Midkiff - Pet Sematary) who offers to help with some new head shots and it is during that studio session she meets Steve Roth (Kirk Baltz) his make up man. Roth finds Marla beautiful and not only finds her a room in the apartment he owns but starts hanging around her, showing up at various photo shoots and letting himself into the apartment. But when Marla has enough and tells Steve to leave her alone he takes it badly and hires two thugs to attack her, horribly disfiguring her face and leading to a tough court case in order to get justice.

I have never heard of Marla Hanson but her story is scarily similar to British model Katie Piper whose ex-boyfriend arranged for her to be assaulted with acid thrown in her face. But "Face Value" is the story of Marla Hanson and what happened to her with it starting with the night of the attack but quickly returning to the beginning having arrived in New York. Whilst the intro is all about Marla's struggle to make it, her friendship with Eric and the unwanted attention from Steve it is shall we say standard TV movie territory from Marla going from one agency to the next to working in a bar. I hate to say it but when it comes to the relationship between Marla and Eric it borders on the cheesy, soft core erotica which littered numerous movies from the early 90s.

Kirk Baltz in Face Value: The Marla Hanson Story (1991)

But then we get the other parts of the movie with Kirk Baltz stealing the movie as Steve with his delusional stalking. Watching him creep around Marla or tell friends that his girlfriend is a model is genuinely unsettling and watching his face change to a look of thunder when he learns that Marla has a man in her room makes you very uneasy. In many ways Baltz plays him as a straight stalker and doesn't do anything new with the character but that is all it takes as we watch him get more and more upset by Marla trying to break free from him.

The third part of the movie focuses on the courtroom drama after the attack and that is where I will leave it because heck you need some surprises when watching a movie. The Courtroom side is good but is on the same solid, occasionally flawed level as the rest of the movie as it suffers from various early 90's style issues, not fashion but the various scenes and soap opera style drama it throws into the mix.

What this all boils down to is that "Face Value: The Marla Hanson Story" is a solid dramatization of a true story which suffers from some typical issues of 90s TV movies but has a good enough storyline to keep you watching.