Murder for a Teacher
When Ruben Borchardt's (Peter Coyote - Outrageous Fortune) wife and mother to their two children died he realised that he couldn't cope with the children by himself which is why when he met school teacher Diane Kay (Ann-Margret - Grumpy Old Men) and her daughter they got married. But the marriage quickly went wrong with Diane making Ruben's life a misery, physically attacking him which he takes because as a Christian he refuses to give up on their marriage. That is until he meets Claire (Leslie Hope - Men at Work) who he meets when he does some work in her house and they realise that they make each other happy. When Ruben decides enough is enough and files for divorce from Diane she refuses to leave quietly and starts manipulating her students to think Ruben has abused her whilst she also makes Claire's life a misery. But her campaign of terror won't stop there as she gets in to the head of her student Doug (Christian Campbell) ...
I read somewhere that Lifetime only make one sort of movie and I thought about that as I was watching "Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" which to my knowledge isn't a Lifetime movie. I thought of that because here we have another movie about a woman who sets about killing her husband and another which is based upon a true story. And it makes it another which despite having its own unique elements ends up surprisingly familiar with almost a sense of formula when it comes to the timing of events in the movie or to be correct mini-series which it was originally made. What I mean is that it starts with events on a dark night, then it jumps back to a few months earlier, what follows is roughly 90 minutes of build up to that opening scene and then a second half which is the consequences.
It is not just a sense of timing which makes "Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" familiar as the camera work is stereotypical and so are the majority of the characters from Diane being an extremely manipulative and catty woman to Ruben being a nice guy who you really feel for. Although I will say that director John Patterson seriously goes to town when it comes to the dramatic nature of the murder scene which really stands out from the rest of the movie.
What that means is that on one hand "Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" is about the story specifics as told in the movie, so we see how Diane flirts with a student and gets into his mind to get him to do what she wants. We also learn all about Diane's evil ways such as spending money needed for Ruben's son's glasses on her daughter's shoes whilst she use to give the children baskets of chocolate eggs for Easter but then take them away. All of which fills up the first half with Diane more than once causing physical injury to Ruben with her violent outbursts. And this is followed by the subsequent investigation as the police uncover Diane's dirty deeds and manipulation of a boy in her class and his friends.
On the other hand "Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" is about the acting and the majority of the acting is solid but nothing out of the ordinary. Although there is always the exception with Ann-Margret delivering some over the top glares and smirks to make it very clear that this woman is evil and is willing to stoop to any level. It is a strangely enjoyable performance even if at times a little too OTT and comes close to being soap-opera-ish. There are also couple of other actors worth mentioning with Tobey Maguire appearing as Ruben's son and Freddy Rodríguez as Michael Maldonado the Mexican kid who the students turn to because as a Mexican of course he has a gun and breaks the law, yes there is some ethnic stereotyping in this movie or at least that's how it comes across.
What this all boils down to is that "Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" is a typical TV movie as in the way it tells the true story of a murder but at the same time it is remarkably entertaining and will keep your attention till the final credits roll even if that is 178 minutes after it starts.