Revisiting the case that necessitated the country's first anti-stalking law, STALKING LAURA is an unsettling true-life tale. While it skimps on what makes the timebomb of a killer tick, it concentrates effectively on watching him slowly explode. Confident Virginia-born computer analyst Laura Black (Brooke Shields) starts off her adult working life with...read more
Revisiting the case that necessitated the country's first anti-stalking law, STALKING LAURA is an unsettling true-life tale. While it skimps on what makes the timebomb of a killer tick, it concentrates effectively on watching him slowly explode.
Confident Virginia-born computer analyst Laura Black (Brooke Shields) starts off her adult working life with a dream job in the Silicon Valley. Politely refusing a date with a nerdish co-worker, Rich Farley (Richard Thomas), Laura finds a compatible roommate and becomes a popular addition to the
Kensitron Inc. staff. Refusing to take "No" for an answer, Rich bombards Laura with gifts, misinterprets her disinterest for coquetry, and harasses her with the skill of one who has circumvented the law before. Although determined to handle her dilemma self-sufficiently, Laura is forced to change
residence to salvage her peace of mind. Escalating his courtship into a war of nerves, Rich even makes veiled threats against Laura's family. Without a policy in place to deal with such a situation, Kensitron handles the matter with wishy-washy restraint. Laura finally serves Rich with a
restraining order that leads to his being fired. Arming himself with an arsenal, Rich bursts onto the Kensitron property, opens fire on his coworkers, and seriously wounds Laura in the shoulder. No longer feeling impotent, Rich regards murdering his former associates as a gesture that will haunt
Laura through all her days. Laura survives her injury with lasting psychological after-effects, while Rich awaits execution on Death Row.
Even when it takes us inside this deviant's thought processes, STALKING LAURA seems more interested in psyching us up for its bloody climax. What's missing (and it's not the fault of Thomas' carefully modulated performance) is a sense of this antagonist's prior history; obviously, he didn't emerge
fully blown as a Freddy Krueger of the partitioned office set. While one might never know what led him to target this particular woman, a sense of his triggering mechanism's origins could have filled in some of the film's blanks. Despite the assembly line nature of TV-movie techniques and the
shallowness of the portrait of Rich Farley, STALKING LAURA is never less than creepily absorbing. Shields etches her character's helplessness and rage at having her life derailed by an event so absurd, yet so unforeseeably perilous. Sometimes the most harmless-looking milquetoasts harbor the
greatest capacity for revenge; that realization is what makes this film so chilling. (Violence, adult situations.)
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