A PLACE FOR ANNIE, a 1994 CBS disease-of-the-week TV movie released to home video, is elevated a notch by the heartfelt star turns delivered by its three leads.
Susan Lansing (Sissy Spacek), a no-nonsense head nurse of the pediatric ward in a major urban hospital, is horrified to discover that terminal infants taken from HIV-positive mothers are being deposited in a holding room and virtually left to die. The prevailing logic is that introducing such
children to maternal affection would be both cruel and unnecessary. Intervening in one such case--that of Annie--Lansing risks losing professional distance by petitioning to take Annie home and care for her herself. This plan proves rocky almost from the start, as each prospective housekeeper
blanches at the mere mention of AIDS. Finally, playing fast and loose with the details, she snags career nanny Dorothy (Joan Plowright), and they set about making a home for themselves.
Enter the birth mother, Linda (Mary-Louise Parker), who contracted AIDS via sharing needles; now clean and sober, she demands her baby back. Avoiding a court battle, Susan proposes that Linda move into her house, avail herself of the facilities, and help to raise Annie. Linda agrees, but she
finds herself at odds with genteel Dorothy and lifesaver Susan, and grows more and more frustrated with her inability to interact naturally with her own daughter.
The class difference would be barrier enough, but tensions are exacerbated by Susan's self-righteous intractability and Linda's willingness to exploit her victimhood. But as the inevitability of Linda's own medical fate slowly announces itself, each comes to learn from the other, and to share
each other's tragedies. This reaches an emotional culmination in a scene where Linda calls her own mother, from whom she is estranged, to tell her she is dying, and is callously dismissed. In a final gesture, Linda climbs into a waiting cab, having vowed to spend her final days in a hospice rather
than exert an added burden on those around her. Against their protestations, she exits, leaving a sealed note with Susan, to be read only after she's gone. Inside, her note awards custody of Annie to Susan.
Parker is near-perfect at capturing the wounded arrogance of the professional drug victim, as well as the desperation of those who are cornered at the bottom. And Spacek of course is a powerhouse, gracing this rather programmatic tour of the day's headlines with a moral resiliency that gives the
piece its emotional heft. A PLACE FOR ANNIE is easily a two-hankie tearjerker, and well worth the second look on video. (Adult situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: A PLACE FOR ANNIE, a 1994 CBS disease-of-the-week TV movie released to home video, is elevated a notch by the heartfelt star turns delivered by its three leads. Susan Lansing (Sissy Spacek), a no-nonsense head nurse of the pediatric ward in a major urba… (more)