If These Walls Could Talk

The same house serves as the setting for three stories of women confronted with the subject of abortion in this film made for HBO. Credited primarily to writer-director Nancy Savoca (1993's HOUSEHOLD SAINTS), this trilogy lacks the graceful touch of her best work. 1952. Despondent since the death of her husband six months ago, Claire Donnelly (Demi Moore)...read more

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The same house serves as the setting for three stories of women confronted with the subject of abortion in this film made for HBO. Credited primarily to writer-director Nancy Savoca (1993's HOUSEHOLD SAINTS), this trilogy lacks the graceful touch of her best work.

1952. Despondent since the death of her husband six months ago, Claire Donnelly (Demi Moore) let a moment of comfort with her brother-in-law turn into an act of passion and is now pregnant. Unable to bear the shame that an illegitimate birth would bring on both her and her in-laws, she seeks an

abortion. But even though she works as a nurse, she is unable to locate an affordable, reliable doctor to help her. Desperate, she hires a shady abortionist who botches the job, leaving her dying of internal hemorrhaging.

1974. Having raised four children, two of them now in high school, middle-class mother Barbara Barrows (Sissy Spacek) looks forward to going back to school and finishing the degree she interrupted years ago. But when she accidentally becomes pregnant, it appears as though the family will have to

sacrifice much: her schooling, the early retirement of husband John (Xander Berkeley), the private college her daughter Linda (Hedy Burress) wants to attend. Although Linda stridently demands that she get an abortion, Barbara decides against it.

1996. Although she had previously been against abortion, college student Chris (Anne Heche) considers having one when she becomes pregnant. At a women's clinic, she receives advice from a counselor and speaks with some of the women protesting outside. The next day, she decides to return for the

operation, not knowing that protestors have planned a large demonstration. She makes her way in and receives an abortion from Dr. Beth Thompson (Cher), who is widely respected. As Dr. Thompson finishes the procedure, a gunman bursts into the run and shoots her to death.

It's tempting to speculate how much this cable film's three high-powered stars had to do with the production, as their segments seem to mirror their public personae. Moore's segment may be historically accurate, presenting information that needs to be known about what women endured when abortion

was illegal. But it is so horrifying as to be unwatchable. Spacek's turn as a middle-class mother forced to make personal choices is the best of the lot, though the character of her daughter, an obnoxious teen feminist who thinks she knows everything about women's issues, is more of a caricature

than it needed to be. And Cher's segment (which she also directed) is a star turn in which she takes top billing from Anne Heche (who plays the main character) to play the part of a martyr in too much makeup. IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK may provoke discussion, but is finally too slanted in one

direction to be of use for anything other than raising money for abortion rights. (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)

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