Client List (Movie)
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The Client List (Movie)

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When a cable network begins producing their own line of original movies they have the tendency to stick rather closely to the mandate that defined the niche network in the first place. One of the most notable examples is the creature features that regularly appear on the SyFy Channel aptly dubbed ‘Saturday night Specials’. One network has become Synonymous with their made for cable flick that they have become genre in their own right and definitely a franchise brand name; ‘Lifetime movies’. A film boasting that banner is immediately recognizable for its content, themes and overall sensibilities. Since Lifetime was created as the Cable channel for women their original programming, most especially including their movies, are going to feature strong women facing unrelenting obstacles most frequently brought about by a man in their life. From cheating husbands, to abusive fathers the heroines of a Lifetime flick will persevere ding anything necessary to not only survive the dire circumstances but out right flourish as a result of encountering them. One of these films so perfectly engendered the concepts behind this network that is was afforded the rare privilege for the channel, its own weekly series. ‘The Client List’ examines the life of young wife and mother who was force to pursuing unthinkable measure to provide for her children. It is almost straight from the lyrics of a hack country western song, the economy is in the dumps, the bank is on the verge of foreclosure and her husband ran off leaving her with hungry children and a stack of overdue bills significantly taller than her petite frame. This is the kind of premise that this niche network was built on becoming one of the most popular basic cable networks on the lineup. In this instance the belabored young woman is forced into a life of prostitution. I know, you have heard this term or something extremely similar to it for years and might have thought there are always options that are morally, preferable to becoming a whore. One of the main tenants of Lifetime production is no matter what actions are undertaken there has to be some plausible rational for resorting to them. In this case the writers did do an excellent job of properly setting the stage for the fall and rise of our pretty protagonist.

Samantha Horton is a mother of three small children still living not far from the small town in Texas where she grew up. The years since she won local beauty pageants haven’t been all that many but they have been exceedingly kind. Sam still is a knock out well able to turn heads and fuel male fantasies. She has a license in massage but hasn’t had cause to use it as her husband Rex (Teddy Sears) was a good provider. In typical small time fashion the beauty queen married the foot ball star right out of high school. The film was made in 2010 when the top headlines were focusing on top executive greed and corporate profit taking crushing the common man. Placing this story properly in context is crucial not only to understanding the plot but more importantly generating the all important foundation for sympathizing with Sam’s plight. When Rex loses his job and discovers they are broke he makes the usual male minimal effort to set things right but ultimately caves into to the inability to accept responsibility that defines his gender in these films; he splits. Initially Sam tries to do the socially acceptable thing and seeks employment putting her certificate in massage therapy to use. She runs into a former frienemy who is driving as sleek new sports car. They exchange a few works and Sam learns the girl is doing exceptionally well working for a new day spa that opened in a nearby town. Sam applies for the job and her winning personality wins over the owner and she gets the job. It doesn’t take long before Sam discovers there is a special client list for men who expect a very special treatment. Sam is duly insulted but when she is unable to get another extension on the upcoming mortgage payment she make her mind up. With tears in her eyes and trembling chin she goes to the boss and request a customer from the list. There is one thing about life in a small community, you are bound to run into people you don’t want to see and Sam crosses paths too closely with clients. Another turning point is good natured Sam offers some sisterly advice to a lapsed Christian who is also worked at the massage parlor. With a refocused purpose in life the girl goes to the local congregation telling them what really goes on at the spa. Outraged that house of ill repute is in their midst they start a campaign to rid the town of this amoral establishment. The problem with this course of action is plain and common in the news, the names of the town leaders are on the list.

Admittedly the film is melodramatic but that is consistent with the nature of this style of movie. The ground work is efficiently laid to make Sam into the victim betrayed by her husband and thrown to the wolves by uncaring banks. Almost everyone has been adversely affected by the malignant policies of the major financial instructions. Sam is the archetypical whore with a heart of gold who even bakes cookies for her clients and freely dispenses profoundly effective marital advice. No wonder the guys literally line up for her. The story by Suzanne Martin is very effective in allowing the audience to side with Sam; a factor that is greatly assisted by the down home cuteness of Ms Hewitt. She is never the one in the wrong that is reserved for her cowardly husband and excessive corporate greed. The pacing is very well done thanks to the consistent talent of the director, Eric Laneuville. His name has the directorial credit slot of just about every imaginable television series from ‘The Ghost Whisper’, to ‘Lost’, ‘Moonlighting’ and ‘The Gilmore Girls’. In fact there is not a single genre in TV he has not successfully directed. I first remember his name as a featured regular on ‘St Elsewhere’ where he played Luther the orderly throughout its run. Mr. Laneuville has certainly become as fixture in the director’s chair for every series I can think of and I have always found something special and distinguishable in his work.

Posted 07/20/12

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