Numbered for Murder

Matt Czuchry in The 19th Wife (2010)

When there is a murder at the home in a fundamentalist sect, BeckyLyn (Patricia Wettig), the 19th wife, is accused of murdering her husband. Her friend Queenie (Chyler Leigh) doesn't believe that BeckyLyn is capable of murder and so gets in touch with Jordan (Matt Czuchry), Beckylyn's son who was kicked out of the sect as a teenager and who was her childhood sweetheart. As they work together to try and find out who killed his father they unravel a series of secrets, lies and sealed lips.

Firstly "The 19th Wife" is an average movie, I will tell you that now so you are under no pretence that this movie is special but at the same time it is fascinating because it attempts to be more than it first appears. By that "The 19th Wife" actually gives us a glimpse of what it means to be part of a fundamentalist sect from things such as Prophets arranging things so young women are forced to marry older members to the importance of a woman growing her hair long so that in heaven it is long enough to wash feet with. It also covers aspects of what happens in the sect stays in the sect and a lot more. It does a much better job than some other TV movies which deal with polygamous sects to actually show us the workings of the sect and how some people run away whilst others are forced to leave.

Patricia Wettig in The 19th Wife (2010)

At the same time we have the secrets and lies part of "The 19th Wife" as Jordan returns to the town he was kicked out of and starts snooping to get to the truth of what happened to save his mum. I won't spoil things by going in to detail but it combines aspects of life in the sect to create a plot with several twists which keep you involved in the whole picture rather than only interesting in parts.

Now "The 19th Wife" is based on a novel by David Ebershoff and whilst I haven't read the novel I know that in adapting the story to the screen the character of Jordan was switched from being homosexual to heterosexual and it caused offence. Without knowing how Jordan's homosexuality came in to play in Ebershoff's original story I can't say how much different the movie is but to me it seems to still work with him being heterosexual.

What this all boils down to is that "The 19th Wife" is an entertaining drama which combines an insight into what it is like in a fundamentalist sect with a crime story. It isn't a great movie but one which is fascinating even for those who have already come across other movies which deal with polygamous sects.

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