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Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Midnight Bayou" Review: Too Much Undeveloped Potential

In all honesty, “Nora Roberts’ Midnight Bayou” is not all that easy to describe, but I’ll give it a shot…

Jerry O’Connell is Declan Fitzpatrick, a Boston attorney who broke up with his fiance and moved to New Orleans to buy Manet Hall, a haunted antebellum mansion that Declan felt a connection to when he visited eight years before.

But soon, Declan is feeling another connection to Lena Simone (Lauren Stamile). But Lena has a stormy past that she can’t seem to shake and even with her grandmother’s (Faye Dunaway) urging, she’s hesitant to start something with Declan.

However, Declan doesn’t give up, especially when he starts to think that he and Lena are more connected to Manet Hall than either of them would have ever thought—a realization he comes to through mysterious visions he sees in his home.

There’s no doubt that “Bayou” is out there as it deals not only with spirits, but also reincarnation and—since it is New Orleans—voodoo. But there is also a genuine mystery as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always quite work since the resolution depends on the spirits, the reincarnation and the voodoo.

But probably the biggest problem is that the movie spends too much time on the build-up and not enough time for the payoff. And because it does spend so much time building up the mystery, there is barely any romance whatsoever. Plus, the story of Lena’s mother is so undeveloped, I was surprised to see her play such an important part in the resolution. Maybe that’s why it didn’t make a lot of sense.

O’Connell is adorable as always and Stamile is good as his love interest. And Dunaway is as mysterious and creepy as you can get. But they’re not enough to save the movie’s inconsistencies.

That being said, “Bayou” is not a terrible movie as it has a lot of potential. It’s just that the potential doesn’t really get developed. I’ve got to believe that the book is better.

Maybe the people who made this movie will be reincarnated as other TV movie producers and get another chance to make it right…

“Nora Roberts’ Midnight Bayou” premieres tonight (Saturday, March 28th) at 9 on Lifetime with encore presentations tonight at 11 and Monday, March 30th at 9 p.m.

Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/Lifetime