Finding New Harmony
Judith Leavitt (Kelly Rowan - Eight Days to Live) was born and raised in Harmony, a polygamous Mormon community which strictly abides by the rules when it comes to who people can speak to and marry. But the way of life starts to weigh heavy on Judith's heart especially after a young man attempted to rape her daughter, Alice (Hannah Lochner), and Josiah (Richard Burgi - Patient Killer), her husband and also community leader, does nothing about it. Fearful for her children and what fate lies ahead for them Judith sets their house on fire and escapes with her children to try and make a new life for them in the city, not easy when the only life you have known has been one of extreme religious order. When one of Judith's daughters, Charlotte (Martha MacIsaac), decides to return to Harmony Judith knows she must intervene.
"The Ultimate Sin", which is also known as "In God's Country", is not the first movie I have watched about a polygamous Mormon community and like with my previous experience the glimpse of this life where children as young as 12 are ordered to marry old men made me feel sick. In many ways the first third of the movie focuses upon this, the look at what this extreme way of life is like with male leaders who make the rules and decide who can marry who. It is quietly powerful and unsettling as we are introduced to "The Prophet" who has a very unsettling side to him in the way he places his hands on people and talks to a 14 year old girl. But all of this, this look at the way of life in a polygamous community, is only the set up to provide reason for why Judith felt impelled to leave with her children for their safety.
The second phase of "The Ultimate Sin" focuses upon Judith and her children finding themselves in the real world, one which none of them have really encountered before. This is where the movie is let down by a need to keep it to a reasonable running length because everything seems so easy. After fleeing from Harmony Judith and children show up at Social Services and after a short wait they get all the help they need from housing to clothes and food vouchers. Now I would imagine that Social Services are on the look out for people abandoning the polygamous community but the way everything seems so easy weakens the story and "The Ultimate Sin" would have been a much greater movie if it had shown more trials and tribulations. We do see the difficulties of Judith's children having to go to school and facing bullying for who they are but it doesn't really feel believable.
The third part of "The Ultimate Sin" revolves around the events when Charlotte decides to head back to Harmony and the community but also Josiah's attempts to track them down. I won't say what happens but other than to remind you that "The Ultimate Sin" is a TV movie and firmly fits in to what most people expect from a TV movie in fact even before this third part it never betrays its TV movie origins with sugar coated scenes and mild melodrama.
What this all boils down to is that "The Ultimate Sin" is a solid TV movie built on a story about a woman and her family escaping from a polygamous community. As such it isn't always the most realistic of dramas but it does a good job of keeping your attention.