Before either became a box office superstar, Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis teamed up for this controversial made-for-television drama about a teenager facing the death penalty. TOO YOUNG TO DIE? aired on NBC in 1990, one year prior to Pitt's breakout role in THELMA AND LOUISE and Lewis's
Oscar-nominated performance in CAPE FEAR. Released to home video in 1995 to capitalize on Pitt's escalating appeal, TOO YOUNG TO DIE? is an interesting, fact-inspired drama, highlighted by a riveting performance by then 16-year-old Lewis.
Amanda Sue Bradley (Lewis) is arrested at a trailer park. Charged with murder and kidnapping, she will face the death penalty if tried as an adult. The events leading up to her arrest are revealed in a series of extended flashbacks, punctuated by interviews with her well-meaning but inexperienced
public defender, Buddy Thornton (Michael Tucker).
Raised by an uncaring mother and a drunken, abusive stepfather, Amanda leaves home at fourteen to marry her boyfriend. Amanda's young husband abandons her soon after their marriage to enlist in the Army. Returning to her mother's trailer, Amanda learns that mom and stepdad have moved and left no
forwarding address. With no money and nowhere to live, Amanda wanders from one place to another looking for a job. She becomes the easy prey of low-life drifter Billy (Pitt). Billy puts her to work dancing in a strip joint and feeds her drugs to help her overcome her inhibitions. Soon he has lured
her into a life of prostitution. Still too young to get a real job, Amanda clings to Billy out of desperation. She meets Mike Medwicki (Michael O'Keefe), a kind, divorced Army sergeant, who offers her room and board with no strings attached. Amanda falls in love with Mike and thrives in her new
domestic environment. When his relationship with Amanda is discovered, Mike faces court-martial. Though he loves her, he sends Amanda away. She returns, heartbroken and defeated, to her life with Billy. Billy persuades Amanda to exact revenge on Mike and his new girlfriend. They break into Mike's
home and kidnap the couple, taking them out to an oil field. In a drug-induced jealous rage, Amanda stabs Mike to death. Despite her attorney's heartfelt pleas, Amanda is tried as an adult. She is found guilty and sentenced to death.
Though his character was really a supporting player, Michael Tucker received top billing because he was a TV star ("L.A. Law") when TOO YOUNG TO DIE? aired, while his two costars were virtually unknown. Tucker is effective as a sympathetic lawyer who defends and befriends Amanda, but his
contributions are overshadowed by Pitt's unbridled intensity and Lewis's needy vulnerability. TOO YOUNG TO DIE? effectively builds suspense--and audience sympathy--by leaving the identity of the murder victim and the question of Amanda's guilt or innocence unknown until well into the story. After
this revelation, the film turns into a courtroom drama for its final, and weakest, act, which promotes the filmmakers' message that troubled minors are victims of society and should not be held accountable for capital offenses. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse,profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: Before either became a box office superstar, Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis teamed up for this controversial made-for-television drama about a teenager facing the death penalty. TOO YOUNG TO DIE? aired on NBC in 1990, one year prior to Pitt's breakout role i… (more)