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||IMDB Rating: 6.2/10 from PG-13 votes
||Release: 20 Jun 1992 /
||Director: Joan Micklin Silver,
||Synopsis: The true story of Romper Room host Miss Sherri Finkbine, who, after the devastating effects of thalidomide were discovered in the early 1960s, sparked a firestorm of controversy with her ...
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Sissy Spacek plays real life Sherri Finkbine in Phoenix Arizona in 1962,
Miss Sherri on television's Romper Room. She finds that by having taken
thalidomide tranquilisers, she has endangered her unborn baby, and she
decide whether to abort, as there is a strong chance that the child will
severly deformed. The law on abortion in Arizona is that it can only be
when the birth presents a risk to the mother's life, and the sentence for
illegal abortion is 2 - 5 years in jail.
The teleplay by William Nicholson initally presents Sherri as a
woman, working against the wishes of her husband (Aiden Quinn), though we
might think the cost of feeding their 4 children would demand both parents
be employed. However as the narrative enfolds and the stress of the
situation impacts on the couple, we observe the weaknesses in the base
relationship. Her mother (Estelle Parsons) praises Sherri as a "good
someone who has been selfless, but Sherri reveals that this has been
something she has created to conceal her true rebellious nature. Sherri
feels disempowered by the patriarchal system of husband and doctors and
judges who want to control what she does with her body. Nicholson uses the
Finkbone husband and wife to reinforce stereotypes of men as unemotional
rational, and women as the opposite. He also repeats Quinn's line "Do we
have to do this now", as "We don't have to do this now" in variation,
still doesn't free it from being false dialogue, on the level of "We can
beat this thing".
Director Joan Micklin Silver's approach seems to determined not to
sensationalise that she overdoes the 60's kitsch, opening with When I Fall
in Love, giving the women unflattering hairstyles, using a banal music
by James Newton Howard, and even hackneyed slow motion as Sherri battles
through crowds so we can see how heroic/tragic she is. Apart from Spacek's
bursts of edgy anger, and the use of a glove puppet called Krazy Cat which
allows her to use a different speaking and singing voice, the only
unexpected thing is a girl children fight.
The best scene is when Spacek baits Quinn in frustration, screaming in
backyard at 3am, calling him a coward and taunting him to hit her, even if
Silver resolves the argument in dull sentimentality.
Watch for William H Macy in one scene, here billed as WH Macy, funny as a
psychiatrist assessing Spacek.
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