Custody of the Heart
Claire Raphael (Lorraine Bracco) has just been named “Woman of the Year” by the Better Business Bureau for her flourishing furniture design company. But when she comes home from a business trip she finds herself served with divorce papers from her stay-at-home husband. Claire is stunned when it seems the legal system is conspiring against her. Although she is the wage earner, it is she who must vacate the premises, leave her children, and give up half of her business. “Custody of the Heart” premieres Monday, 8/28/00 at 9PM (ET/PT) on Lifetime.
Talk about changing times. Not only does this film have a Mr. Mom situation, but he’s also unhappy that the breadwinner is too busy for him. When he blindsides his wife with divorce papers, she learns that the court has granted him temporary custody of the children and that she has to move out. He is seeking full-time custody of the kids, the house, and half of the profits from her business. That seemed understandable when the roles were reversed, but now that it’s happening to women, suddenly things are not so just.
When I mentioned this Lifetime film to a friend, he said, “Oh, that’s the channel that espouses the notion ‘Woman good/man bad.’” Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but it is rare to find a made-for-Lifetime movie that doesn’t paint the male lead as either self-involved, stupid, or abusive, in order to extol today’s strong-minded woman. And, sure enough, once again the male lead is a real jerk.
If you can get beyond the subtle male bashing and the proposition that the justice system favors men above women, I think you will find this is an involving story. Lorraine Bracco gives a dynamite performance. What’s more, her character is someone I’d like to know. She is smart, giving, and feminine.
If there is some validity to the film’s theme that women don’t receive equal treatment by our courts, perhaps films such as this will help get people thinking of ways legislation can bring equality to the legal arena. But the perpetuation of the war between men and women as a dramatic tool for movies is getting a bit stale. Jerkdom is not a kingdom exclusively populated by one sex alone. And although men and women are different in many aspects, I have to say, “Viva La Difference.” So, lighten up Lifetime. Or don’t you want the other half of the population as a possible audience?