The Lifetime channel saved the best for last with Nora Roberts’ made-for-TV movie, Carolina Moon.
With a stunning bit of casting that included Claire Forlani as Tori Bodine, Oliver Hudson as Cade Lavelle, and Jacqueline Bisset as Margaret Lavelle, they pulled out all the stops with this one to create a suspenseful thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end.
Of all four movies, this one struck me as the best – though I’m not sure about the ending. If I recall right, the book ended a bit differently, so if you’ve read it more recently than I have, feel free to leave me a comment. I was thinking Faith (Josie Davis) was a little more of a sinister character. Also, let me know if you caught Nora’s cameo in this: I missed it when I stepped away for a chocolate break.
Here’s the story synopsis (courtesy of Lifetimetv.com), if you haven’t had the priveledge or opportunity to have read the orignial Carolina Moon already:
Returning to her hometown to make peace with her unsettling past wouldn’t be easy for Tory even if she didn’t have a gift for psychic visions. Tory knows that a trip down memory lane means reliving horrific images that flashed through her mind many years before, the night her childhood friend Hope was brutally killed. As though that weren’t twisted enough, Tory soon discovers that Hope’s death was only the first in a string of murders that have continued every year since that terrible day. And the worst part? This sociopath has been waiting patiently for Tory’s return. So now she’s got two choices: Use her supernatural powers to catch this killer or end up his next victim! You’ll love the suspense in this flick, as well as the steamy romance between Tory and Cade, Hope’s hunky older brother (played by cutie Oliver Hudson, Kate Hudson’s sibling).
Tori’s psychic abilities come across as very believeable (not at all hokey) and her interludes with murdered childhood friend Hope are very realistic and touching. Cade’s long-time love of Tori (illustrated with flashbacks of a cute ten year-old staring longingly after Tori’s retreating station wagon) are also portrayed well and come off as sweet and pure, rather than long-term obsessive.
I think that the key to making this movie work, however, was a combination between casting and character development: Forlani, with her face all cheekbones and vulnerable eyes, Davis’ brittle blond beauty, and Bisset with her patrician, matriarchal immovability, all combined to create true-to-life (or in this case, fiction) characters.
The only problems I had with the movie were minimal: the bad Southern accents, and Hudson’s lack of a chin – not his fault, and happily, a trait that didn’t affect his acting abilities in the least. Sorry to say (shallow female moment) one of my favorite aspects of the movie were wardrobe choices. I want to buy outfits just like Tori when I grow up.
So again, we have a stellar effort from Mandalay, Lifetime, and Nora Roberts. Even if it didn’t end quite like I think I remember, it was a satisfying movie that hit all the right chords with me. Well done, and another “A.”
Now that we’ve totally exhausted the Nora talk for a while, hold on to your chairs: we’re going from contemporary suspense to historical fiction in one big leap. Stick around for a glimpse of NY Times Bestseller Julia London‘s next book, “The Perils of Pursuing a Prince.” I’ve got an advance copy that I just can’t wait to review (already read it, not giving anything away here), and I’ll be posting my thoughts on it in the next couple of days!