The Unspoken Truth (1995)

Lea Thompson as Brianne Hawkins in The Unspoken Truth (1995)

The Innocent Victim

What happens when you cross "Back to the Future" with "A Nightmare on Elm Street", you get "The Unspoken Truth". Okay so what I mean is that this made for TV movie stars Lea Thompson and features Robert Englund in a supporting part, both giving good performances as do all the cast with James Marshall giving a rather convincing performance as a violent husband. But the casting is not the only right thing about "The Unspoken Truth" as it also has a powerful storyline with a surprise or two thrown in for good measure. The only thing it lacks is style because visually it is standard which in some ways is good as it makes the storyline the focus but a creative camera angle or something different to the norm would have been welcome.

Having dropped their daughter off at her grandmothers Brianne (Lea Thompson) and Clay Hawkins (James Marshall) head down the bar but that is when it all started as when another man starts flirting with Brianne Clay gets a gun and kills him. Frightened of her volatile and physically abusive husband Brianne agrees to lie on the stand for him, saying she killed the guy by accident but it ends up with them both sentenced to life for manslaughter. With their child staying with Carl's mum Brianne is still controlled by Clay behind prison walls making sure she does what he says, that is until she learns a family secret which changes everything.

James Marshall in The Unspoken Truth (1995)

What I haven't mentioned so far is that "The Unspoken Truth" is inspired by a true story and frankly it is one I am not familiar with so have no idea how much fact and fiction there is in this made for TV movie but how ever much there is it works as an effective drama. And that drama, without giving too much away, is less about the murder but more about Brianne as an abused wife, protecting her daughter by trying to get in the way so that Clay took his violence out on her. But it is also about a twist which leads to Brianne changing her mind and finding the courage to finally make a stand against him and tell the truth having already served time for the murder she didn't commit. It isn't the grittiest of movies but does a good job of getting across some now familiar issues surrounding abused wives and that often they end up taking the abuse to protect others.

The trouble is that whilst "The Unspoken Truth" engages your mind as you watch this movie just lacks style. Everything about it from the camera angles to the scene structure is very ordinary and if it wasn't for the strength of the story it is the sort of dull style which could help you drift off to sleep. That is not the only issue as a couple of twists end up poorly handled because again they are done in such a cliche TV movie way.

The good news is that for what "The Unspoken Truth" lacks in style it makes up for in acting and all the main cast are convincing. There maybe something immediately likeable about Lea Thompson but you also feel for her as Brianne as we watch her time and again put herself in-between Clay and her daughter. Talking of which James Marshall is seriously unsettling as Clay as he brings to life the nasty, controlling side. And I could go on because all those such as Robert Englund and Dick O'Neill in supporting parts are good in their characters.

What this all boils down to is that "The Unspoken Truth" works well as a drama and one which whilst not the grittiest still manages to get across some now familiar elements of the story of an abused wife. It means that for those unfamiliar with the true story will be able to follow and be engaged by the drama as well as the performances.