John Boy Goes Beserk
I was pretty sure I knew what to expect from "Stalking Laura" as not only were we in the realms of 90s TV movies but also one based on a true story of a stalker. In fact I wasn't expecting a great deal because of the casting of Richard Thomas, not because of his skills as an actor but because Thomas is so much the good guy sort of character actor that to see him cast as a stalker seemed completely wrong. Yet I was wrong because Thomas is brilliant in the role of a stalker Richard Farley and he works brilliantly with Brooke Shields who tones down her character perfectly so whilst pretty she is also ordinary.
After graduating Laura Black (Brooke Shields - The Blue Lagoon) relocates from her family home in Virginia for a good job in Silicon Valley for a computer company. As the only woman in her department she already feels pressure but that becomes even greater when on her first day she meets Richard Farley (Richard Thomas - IT) who not only can't take his eyes off of her but asks her out. Despite Laura's polite no he is persistent as he starts writing Laura letters, baking her bread, giving her gifts to the point of stalking her and becoming threatening in his actions. The question is that how much can Laura take and how far will Farley go?
What is interesting about "Stalking Laura" is many of these true life made for TV movies focus on the woman's plight where this one is more balanced and focuses on both Laura's plight and the world of Richard Farley as he loses it. It makes it much more rounded as we see Laura trying to ignore Farley's persistent, forceful and frankly deluded attempts to date her whilst we also see how deluded he becomes, sneaking into her locked office after everyone has gone home to look in her bins and go through her files. Now all of this builds and builds with Laura becoming increasingly scared and eventually reporting him whilst Farley becomes more extreme and threatening until... Well I won't say as the true story on which this is based is old enough that many people won't be aware of how this ends but let's just say it gets really shocking.
The thing which makes "Stalking Laura" so good is in truth the acting with Richard Thomas delivering a fantastic performance as Richard Farley. Maybe it's because seeing Thomas playing a bad guy that it is all the more shocking but the forcefulness and the way he becomes deranged is truly unsettling. But Brooke Shields is just as good because as Laura she keeps things surprisingly restrained, yes she is pretty but never flirty or over the top even when she decides to make a stand with the personnel officer who brushes away her complaints. In fact when Shields plays frightened it is impressive as it never seems melodramatic which is often the case in these sort of TV movies.
What this all boils down to is that "Stalking Laura" is not only good but it is above average for a TV movie from the 90s. What makes it stand out is the acting of both Richard Thomas and Brooke Shields who bring their characters to life without going over the top.