Bad Bart Gets Lowe
An upset woman, a bang and a gun flash and then a young child walks across the street to a neighbour's house his feet crimson from walking through blood. It is a stunning start to the TV movie "Too Late to Say Goodbye" which is based upon a true story but unfortunately that ends up as stunning as it gets. What follows should be an intriguing investigation as Detectives initially believing this to be a suicide of a depressed woman discover it is not. But between the jumble of flashbacks and present as well as a lack of possibilities "Too Late to Say Goodbye" becomes a slow procession to an inevitable although reasonably dramatic conclusion only pepped up by Rob Lowe delivering an icy, confident character which not only stands out but also makes it very obvious.
Late one night a distressed Jenn Corbin (Stefanie von Pfetten) takes a gun and kills herself, or at least that is what the police initially believe. But Jenn's sister Heather (Lauren Holly) thinks otherwise and through her persistence the police turn the focus of their investigation towards Jenn's husband, Bart Corbin (Rob Lowe).
So the opening minute of "Too Late to Say Goodbye" is good and the impact of seeing young Taylor Corbin go to a neighbour with his feet covered in blood is immense. But then as I said "Too Late to Say Goodbye" goes down hill very quickly as director Norma Bailey fluctuates between the present and past in such a way it becomes awkward to follow. We basically learn all about how dentist Bart Corbin met Jenn, they married and following having two children Jenn not only began to believe that Bart was being unfaithful but she started chatting to a person called Chris online. This is all interweaved with the present as the detectives discover all about Bart and Jenn's relationship and revelations that Jenn's online relationship with Chris turned out to be a woman called Marion.
The thing is that "Too Late to Say Goodbye" is all very messy as it flits all over the place jumping between the past and present as it tries to create this picture of what was going on prior to the moment that Jenn died. And sadly it also has one major problem and that is as whilst at first the Detectives believe it to be suicide when they decide it could be otherwise there is only one suspect. Now in fairness "Too Late to Say Goodbye" is based on a true story and maybe it was the case that there was only one suspect which without spoiling things is Bart, but it makes it a one level movie. And that one level is the Detectives discovering stuff about Bart which could prove that he killed Jen, which in fairness some of which is interesting but also causes big contrivances in the story. Let's just say that something which miraculously comes out into the open about Bart when he was at Dental College not only appears in a contrived way but you wonder why the Detectives didn't already know it.
All of which means that even if you didn't know that "Too Late to Say Goodbye" was based upon the true story the outcome is pretty obvious. Although having said that the final scenes are almost as good as the opening scenes which makes it a shame that it all gets so messy during the middle.
Because "Too Late to Say Goodbye" ends up so obvious it ends up a movie which rests upon one person's shoulders and those belong to Rob Lowe. Now Robe Lowe is one of the few positives in the movie because he creates a character who the minute we meet we know has issues as he insists on being called Dr. Corbin. And as we watch the back story unfold we also discover he is a control freak who having once been humiliated when he was dumped vowed to never be humiliated again. It is a good performance because Lowe delivers this cruel calmness which makes him detached from what is happening but still attached enough that he is dangerous. What is a shame that alongside Rob Lowe is Lauren Holly as his sister-in-law Heather who suffers from a poorly written character which never really shows believable emotion making it feel false.
What this all boils down to is that "Too Late to Say Goodbye" has a couple of really good scenes and a good performance from Rob Lowe but unfortunately a lot of it feels messy and awkward. For what should be an intriguing drama based upon a true story it is by no means intriguing and so the element of suspense is missing.