Monday, July 2, 2018

Third Time's the Charm

When you've got a good thing going, why stop? 

Quick Plot: It's been two years since Sophie Green escaped the clutches of Dr. Albert Beck, the lovesick cardiologist with a dangerous kick for young women. A former bright-eyed aspiring medical student, Sophie has traded her sundresses for a gothier style, complete with insomnia and post traumatic stress syndrome. 

See, closure is hard when the man who kidnapped you, threatened to amputate your limbs, and came thisclose to raping and killing you escaped conviction by charming a vulnerable female juror, just like Pablo Schrieber in that never-ending Law & Order: SVU storyline. Unwilling to let go, Sophie follows Beck to Phoenix where he's accepted a job teaching cardiology 101.

It's the very first day of school when Albert locks eyes with Melissa, a pretty blond who fits his exact type by not only being into older men, but also needing some health help that only he can provide. Meanwhile, Sophie begins a justified smear campaign (is that the right word if the target deserves it?) by starting a petition to have her former tormenter fired. Unfortunately, Albert is one step ahead, leading authority figures to see Sophie as an unreliable drug addict. 

Yes, if you can believe it, what we have here is the third Stalked By My Doctor Lifetime production examining gaslighting. It gets even more interesting when the lovestruck Melissa refuses to #believewomen, going so far as to plan Sophie's murder and coverup to protect her new boyfriend's name. 

Written and directed by the "Stalked By" specialist Doug Campbell, Patient's Revenge is pretty much everything fans of this franchise want. Beautiful unlived-in kitchens, ditzy dads who give terrible advice, and Eric Roberts playing off of, well, Eric Roberts as his conscious takes the form of himself decked out in a Hawaiian shirt, sipping an umbrella-laden cocktail and warning him about the dangers of younger women. 

Did I mention the musical fantasy sequence? It's here, and it's fabulous.

One does not look for feats of cinematic wonder on Lifetime, but Patient's Revenge manages to keep pushing the manic weirdness of the Stalked By series to shockingly fun heights. That's far more ambitious than many a theatrical release.

High Points
I could live a hundred lives and never find an actor better at throwing a temper tantrum at himself than Eric Roberts

Low Points
While the single flashback is played for genuine laughs, it seems a little odd that the events of Stalked By My Doctor 2 aren't really explained as such recent history

Lessons Learned
True love means not being freaked out to discover a photograph of yourself framed in your teacher's bedroom on your very first date

Every sexual predator has his own style when it comes to tying up women

Even the dumbest copy will not be fooled by a Frozen wig

If you didn't enjoy the first two Stalked By My Doctors, I can't imagine why you're still here (and along with that, how you have any joy in your heart). Lack of American Girl doll freakouts aside, this is easily the best yet. Roberts is having a blast, but the real treasure is how the film gives its former victim her own agency. This isn't the a feminist manifesto, but it's nice to see the third entry in a goofy Lifetime series playing with its power dynamics in surprising ways. 

But still: bring back the dolls

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