By Kurt Jensen | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK – "'Til Death Do Us Part" (Novus) takes a deep dive into the shallow end of the melodrama pool with predictable results.
Moreover, its improbable plot centered on a faked death is carried as a badge of honor. The film's moral viewpoint may be in the right place, but the plot construction from director-screenwriter Chris Stokes is too ludicrous to make the story in any way relatable to anyone.
Michael Roland (Stephen Bishop) and wife Madison (Annie Ilonzeh) live a seemingly idyllic upscale life, with him apparently tending to her every heart's desire. He's seen at first as somewhat controlling, demanding that she not work, then as more sinister motives are revealed, we learn that he's been taking testosterone injections so Madison won't become pregnant.
When she somehow does become pregnant, Michael's anger outbursts involve hitting her. She's also secretly working at a hospital two days a week when he thinks she's out jogging, so she has witnesses to her bruises.
Eventually, Madison fakes her own death in a car crash. Michael never (don't look for logic here) sees her body at the hospital, but is somehow convinced that a vase of ashes is Madison, so he scatters those and goes into deep mourning.
Madison, meanwhile, still pregnant, sets herself up not that many miles away with a new identity, a new job and a furtive new romance with handsome next-door neighbor Alex (Taye Diggs).
The only remaining suspense involves Michael finally figuring out the deception and encountering Madison.
These plot turns, intended as escapist fantasy, wouldn't pass muster in a "Law and Order" episode.
The film contains physical violence and fleeting rough language and profanities. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.