Abuse on Different Layers
As a teenage ward of the state Jerry Sherwood (Beverly D'Angelo - Christmas Vacation) fell pregnant by her boyfriend Dennis (Michael McGrady) but despite wanting to keep her son when he was born was forced by her father and the state to put the baby up for adoption. Despite this every year after having more children with Dennis and setting up home together Jerry remembered her lost son's birthday. Then 18 years later Jerry decides to try and track down her son and her search leads to a grave as he had died many years earlier. Having managed to get in contact with her sons foster parents the Jurgens, Jerry becomes suspicious of Lois Jurgen (Dana Ivey - Legally Blonde 2) leading to a trial for suspected murder as her abuse is brought to light.
Anyone who knows their TV movies will know that movies which feature "the .... story" in the title normally means based on a true story and "A Child Lost Forever: The Jerry Sherwood Story" is no different. Here we have a story which not only features the emotive subject of a teen mum being forced to put her child up for adoption but also one which features child abuse. Now those two things along with the fact we are talking a true story should make for a powerful storyline but unfortunately the power of the story is missing in this made for TV story.
Now it is hard to pin point what is actually wrong with "A Child Lost Forever: The Jerry Sherwood Story" because the opening shows us the harshness which Jerry faced when she was forced to put up her son for adoption. And then we see the abuse as her adopted son is forced to kneel on broom whilst saying his prayers over and over again because of Lois Jurgens victimization of the little boy. But the movie seems to get lost in dramatizing almost insignificant events from an early scene of Jerry sneaking out of the children's home to a scene immediately after child birth where Jerry wanted to breast feed her son. By this focus on what to me is insignificant it sort of takes away the power of the story.
Despite this "A Child Lost Forever: The Jerry Sherwood Story" still has a certain amount of power and of course is interesting and unsettling. In truth much of that comes from the performance of Dana Ivey as Lois Jurgen rather than Beverly D'Angelo as Jerry as Ivey brings to life the evilness of her character especially when we see her fly off the handle at the small child. That doesn't mean that Beverly D'Angelo's performance is bad, it is easy to feel for her but it doesn't stand out in the same way that Ivey's does, it doesn't always feel very real.
What this all boils down to is that "A Child Lost Forever: The Jerry Sherwood Story" could have been a lot better as whilst it covers a very powerful storyline it is only solid.