Directed By: Pierre Gang
Written By: John Moffatt
Starring: Mimi Rogers, Sara Lind, JR Bourne
It doesn’t embarrass me one bit to confess that I am a Lifetime Junkie. From re-runs of The Golden Girls to the makeover show How to Look Good Naked to original TV series like The Division, this little cable channel has offered me many hours of ‘Television for Women’. But of course, this network would be nothing without their TV Movies. I live for Lifetime originals. They are so good! I know, I just can’t contain myself!
I was fortunate enough to catch Selling Innocence not that long ago, which was awesome since I missed the original broadcast back in ‘05. I was drawn to it based on a commercial which featured a lovely Sarah Lind vamping it up in a school girl dress… I know, I’m such an easy target.
Essentially, Sarah plays Mia, a goth-loving, sweatshirt-wearing teen who’s mother, Abby (played by the even lovelier Mimi Rogers), is constantly pounding the idea into Mia’s head that being pretty = happiness. Abby drags Mia to a modeling agency where young girls garnish compliments all over her. The owner of the agency, Malcolm (JR Bourne), lies right in the middle of sleazy and sincere but lathers enough charm over Abby to get her to sign a contract.
Things go well at first for Mia – she models polyester blended pants for a local flyer (much to the chagrin of her best friend) and joins Malcolm’s paid website for online chats, with a webcam (he assures her that the members are ‘clients’). For once Mia is being paid attention to and she likes it, she really likes it. So much so, she willingly gives a little more skin each time she chats. At one point Malcolm tells her “You’re a star, so act like one,” and the next day Mia is strutting said stuff all over the joint.
Things slowly begin to unravel after that – she inherits a stalker, she’s forced to attend a costume party for some ‘clients,’ her best friend disowns her and her dirty little secret is exposed for every Tom, Dick & Harry to see.
Although this is not groundbreaking stuff, it’s certainly an interesting thriller with a satisfying twist that could have actually been expounded upon even further (there’s another movie that could be made just on that development alone!), but the key factor here is Sarah Lind. Obviously a gorgeous woman, the casting here is realistic and she anchors the film with a strong and thoughtful performance. The producers were smart to hire an attractive girl who probably would never qualify for professional modeling – she’s got healthy curves. This was an important choice because we know Malcolm is pulling one over on her, even though working for him helps her transform into a confident beauty. It underlines the sad fact that girls can be lured into fulfilling dreams with even the most troublesome of characters.
Mimi Rogers is also good as the exasperated mom who loves Mia but has no real time to see what is going on in front of her. A likeable character, she is certainly flawed and sometimes meek, but owns up to her own mistakes when it comes to Mia.
So, that’s a lot of thought for a Lifetime movie, no? Although I wouldn’t classify all their films as thought-provoking material, Selling Innocence does give parents and young girls something to ponder. Give me that over thoughtless high-budget fare any day.
This review originally appeared on Pretty Scary in my column Lifetime Kills.