I know that I'm not the first person to point this out, but what's the deal with the Lifetime Network? They claim to be television for women, and yes, all of their productions feature women in leading roles, but 9 times out of 10, something really horrible is happening to those women. It's just weird. The Perfect Marriage is that rare Lifetime movie where bad things don't technically happen to the main woman in the, but she certainly isn't in a great situation.
As The Perfect Marriage opens, we meet Annie (Jamie Luner), who is married to Martin (James O'Regan). Annie is having an affair with Brent (James Wilder), who convinces her that she can easily kill Martin and inherit his money. Annie agrees and murders her husband, making the whole thing look like a simply heart attack.
The story then leaps ahead a few years, Annie has changed her name to Marianne, and she's married to Richard (William R. Moses), a wealthy developer. Her marriage allows Marianne to move through high-society and she loves arranging charity fund raisers. She's shocked when Brent arrives at one of her functions. Having tracked her down, Brent is convinced that Marianne only married Richard for his money, and he's sure that he can talk her into another murder scheme, despite the fact that betrayed her the last time. Does Marianne truly love Richard, or will she succumb to Brent's evil plan? Richard's assistant Carrie notices Marianne's odd behavior and suspects that something is going on.
I must admit, despite being intrigued by some of the titles, especially Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?, I've never actually seen a Lifetime movie until now. And, I must say, The Perfect Marriage didn't inspire me to seek out any more of them.
The movie simply has a very pedestrian feel to it. The acting is fine, but the direction by Douglas Jackson is uninspired and serves only to move the story along. As for the script, it actually isn't half-bad. The plot isn't very original and the twists aren't groundbreaking, but the first half of the movie is somewhat interesting. For a TV movie, the narrative structure is somewhat unique, as the story leaps from Martin's death directly to the present, only to fill in the gasp later in the film. We know that Brent is going to pop-up at some point, and when he does, the way in which Marianne reacts may be surprising to some viewers.
It's in the last act that the movie falls apart. I don't want to give anything away here, but Marianne can basically take one of two paths with regards to her feelings towards Richard and her uncontrollable attraction to Brent. Surprisingly, she somehow finds a way to do both at once, and her character becomes comical. I thought that I had predicted the final twist, but I was quite wrong as Marianne's character does a complete 180° and the movie goes from being drama directly into thriller territory.
The Perfect Marriage says its vows to DVD courtesy of Lionsgate. The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The transfer doesn't quite match digital broadcast quality. The image is somewhat flat and the colors are dull. The picture shows no grain or defects from the source material. The colors are OK, but a bit drab.
This DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The track delivers clear dialogue, sound effects, and musical cues, but I didn't detect any overt stereo, surround, or subwoofer effects.
There are no extras on this DVD.
Based on the commercials which I've seen for other Lifetime movies, The Perfect Marriage may be an exception as the Marianne character remains in control for much of the film and is never tormented or abused. While this may be a positive, I don't want my wife watching any movie where a woman kills her husband and gets away with it.