A sturdy TV problem drama about domestic violence, SHATTERED DREAMS runs its course so doggedly that one feels more depressed by the female protagonist's endurance in a bad marriage than uplifted by her ultimate victory over her controlling mate.
Ignoring the warning signs of his bad temper, Charlotte (Lindsay Wagner) buys into the white picket fence syndrome when she marries John Fedders (Michael Nouri). She clings to her storybook illusions even after her first taste of physical violence from her ambitious, jealous spouse. As he becomes
a success on Wall Street, John forces Charlotte into a narrowly conceived role designed to make him shine publicly. Despite financial struggles and her family's frustration at her loyalty, Charlotte settles into a pattern of beatings followed by profuse apologies, and harnesses all her energies
into helping John fulfill his political aspirations. Even after he beats her in front of their children, Charlotte hesitates to leave. When she finally stands up to him after an ugly incident involving their children, an enraged John vows to destroy Charlotte in court. Steeling herself against a
shaky financial future and legal inequities, Charlotte exposes John publicly and starts a new career as a crusader for other victimized wives.
The Fedders case was a milestone in US courts because it proved that domestic abuse was not the sole province of lower-income families. But as shocking as those revelations were, they seem tame as dramatized here. SHATTERED DREAMS disappoints by hewing so unimaginatively to standard TV biopic
methodology. What lends this earnest horror story power is the portrayal of the villain's seductive power. Illustrating Charlotte's destructive complacency, the film probes the mechanics of the wife-beater's modus operandi; the movie explains how the couple's power struggle is fueled by his inner
rage and by her conscious decision to absorb his blows as the downside of wifely duty. Even if it doesn't qualify as memorable drama, SHATTERED DREAMS slams its message across persuasively enough to do some good for women in no-win situations. (Violence, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: A sturdy TV problem drama about domestic violence, SHATTERED DREAMS runs its course so doggedly that one feels more depressed by the female protagonist's endurance in a bad marriage than uplifted by her ultimate victory over her controlling mate. Ignoring… (more)