Plain Truth (2004) starring Mariska Hargitay, Alison Pill, Jan Niklas, Kate Trotter, Alec McClure, Jonathan LaPaglia directed by Paul Shapiro Movie Review

Plain Truth (2004)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Alison Pill as Katie Fitch in Plain Truth (2004)

In Truth Not Remarkable

I will be honest with you, whilst I had heard that "Plain Truth" was based on a Jodi Picoult novel it wasn't what interested me. What did was the simple one line synopsis on imdb "An unmarried 18 year-old Amish girl is charged with the murder of her infant child" which immediately opened up a whole lot of possibilities from fundamentalist Amish people, mystery and a murder. Unfortunately those possibilities are never fully explored and in the end not only does "Plain Truth" end up a typical made for TV movie with typical characters but also one which ends up both far fetched and disappointing.

After getting her latest guilty client off top defence lawyer Ellie Harrison (Mariska Hargitay) begins to question the nobility of what she does. But as she prepares to get away from work for a few weeks she is persuaded to take another case that of 18 year old Katie Fitch (Alison Pill), an unmarried Amish girl who is accused of murdering her baby that she denies giving birth to. As Ellie tries to get to the bottom of the case she not only has to deal with the Amish way of life but what that also means to Katie leading to a series of surprises.

Mariska Hargitay as Ellie Harrison in Plain Truth (2004)

In many ways "Plain Truth" lived up to my expectations because not only was it a typical made for TV movie but also a typical treatment of the Amish community. It means that we have a movie full of familiar characters from the cold hearted detective an equally cold hearted prosecutor to the handsome psychiatrist who has romantic history with Ellie. Talking of Ellie she is just as much of a typical character being a tough lawyer facing a crisis of conscience. And as for the Amish community we have fundamentalists especially Katie's father who denies his own children who seek to advance themselves and won't even allow electricity in the house.

But then we have the actual mystery surrounding the death of the baby which Katie denies even giving birth to despite medical evidence to the contrary. Now in fairness the mystery hooks you because initially all we get to start with is the proof of birth and Katie's denial which means she is hiding something and that leads us to speculate what she is hiding and who is involved. Then slowly we are fed a mixture of information and red herrings as we learn that not only does Katie sneak out at night to speak to her dead sister but also has a brother who her father banned from the home for wanting to go to college. And adding to the mystery is Katie's contradictory stance denying things to Ellie but then admitting them to the Amish leaders in order to receive forgiveness.

But here is the trouble because whilst "Plain truth" hooks you with the mystery the longer it goes on the more stupid it becomes, stupid maybe the wrong word but uninteresting certainly is. The trouble is that as we discover what happens it is not that thrilling, it is not salacious enough to have made all the mystery worth it. Having said that there is a twist in the tail to all of this, one which to be honest I hated but loved the camera angle which changed the perspective on the word "stillborn".

As for the acting well in truth with so many cliche characters it was exactly what I expected, not terrible but not brilliant either. Mariska Hargitay is solid as Ellie whilst Alison Pill does a good job of sounding convincing when she continually denies having had a baby. But as I said these are purely typical TV movie performances of typical TV movie characters which at times end up an overly melodramatic.

What this all boils down to is that "Plain Truth" is a watchable made for TV movie, one which does a good job of hooking you but doesn't follow it up with a decent resolution to it all.