The Eyes of a Story
Life was good for Leola Mae Harmon (Glynnis O'Connor), she was an Air Force nurse, she was married to Brian (Craig Wasson) and they were expecting their first child. And then it happened, a car accident which left her face completely destroyed and the loss of her unborn child. If dealing with her disfigurement and the loss of her baby wasn't bad enough Brian also leaves her unable to cope with how she is. But as Leola lays there in hospital there is one person who refuses to let her give up and that is plastic surgeon James Stallings (Armand Assante) who is dedicated to rebuilding her face no matter how many operations or how long it takes.
Here is an important thing for those who don't know "Why Me?" is based on a true story and as such it is the story of two people; Leola and James and their relationship. But when I say relationship that word encompasses many different things and that is what makes "Why Me?" interesting. As such there is a romantic level as James falls in love with Leola and Leola with James but that whilst charming is just a bit of the picture. There is also the partnership side as with Leola being a nurse she works with James in her facial rebuilding. And it makes this look at a couple much more rounded, a deeper sense of trust and understanding.
But that is just a small part of "Why Me?" and we see how Leola copes with her facial disfigurement bravely carrying on working despite being understandably self conscious over how she looks and her inability to speak because of it. Yet because of her facial disfigurements it also makes her brilliant with the soldiers who are suffering from facial injuries sustained during service.
All of which is good but there is the exceptional and the acting in "Why Me?" is extraordinary. Firstly there is the energy and enthusiasm which borders on obsession which Armand Assante so fantastically delivers as James Stalling. But then there is Glynnis O'Connor who spends much of the movie with various prosthetics over her mouth gives such an amazing physical performance but also a performance of the eyes and it is so wonderfully controlled so it never once feels forced or unrealistic. In truth there are some actors who I don't get why they are raved about but this performance is staggering.
What this all boils down to is that "Why Me?" works on so many levels; from the romance to the inspiration it hits the right notes. But it is the acting which for me is where "Why Me?" really excels and it is why I persevere with watching old TV movies, looking for gems like this.