Don't waste your time on prison break movie 'Seduction of Joyce Mitchell' - The Buffalo News

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Don't waste your time on prison break movie 'Seduction of Joyce Mitchell'

Get me out of here.

That was my initial thought about 30 minutes into the Lifetime movie, "New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell," that airs at 8 p.m. Sunday.

This is no way a reflection on the performance of Penelope Ann Miller as Mitchell, the married mother of three who helped convicted murderers Richard Matt (played by Myk Watford of "Law & Order SVU") and David Sweat (Joe Anderson of "Across the Universe") escape the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, where she ran the tailor shop.

Miller, who has a long list of impressive credits including co-starring as the beautiful wife in the Oscar-winning silent movie "The Artist," is excellent as Mitchell, who in September, 2015, was given the maximum sentence of two and a third to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree promoting prison contraband, a felony, for her admitted role in the dramatic escape of Matt and Sweat from Clinton Correctional Facility. She was denied parole in February.

An attractive actress in real life, Miller does her best to dress down to portray the ordinary-looking Mitchell. Watford and Anderson also give decent performances playing the convicts who manipulated Mitchell and made fun of her behind her back for failing for their con.

Any attempt to sympathize with Mitchell is halted in the opening scene, when the horror of the crimes committed by Matt and Sweat are depicted in brutal detail and reflect poorly on anyone willing to help them.

Conscience spurred prison worker Joyce Mitchell to jilt Richard Matt, David Sweat for her husband

At the time of the escape, Matt was serving 25 years to life for the 1997 torture murder of North Tonawanda businessman William Rickerson. While on the lam, he killed a man in a barroom brawl in Mexico. In the early 1990s, he was involved in a murder-for-hire plot and escaped from the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden.

The escapees evaded thousands of searchers for 20 days before Matt was shot and killed. Sweat was wounded two days later and captured near the Canadian border.

The movie, which lists Buffalo News reporter Lou Michel as a consultant, slowly develops how the convicts flattered and romanced Mitchell into helping them via love notes that are narrated and are unlikely to give Hallmark any new material. She is warned by authorities about being too close to the convicts, but that has little impact on her. She eventually and repeatedly has sex with Matt, suggested in a PG-13 way.

Mitchell is shown to be susceptible to the flattery partly because she is living an ordinary life with a husband (played by Daniel Roebuck), whose major crime is talking too much and loving her too much. In case you miss that obvious point, Sweat tells Matt that Mitchell's motivation in helping them is escaping from her life, too. Mitchell's husband is the one sympathetic figure in the movie.

Her husband's non-stop patter and the convicts' notes lead Mitchell to fantasize, which leads to some scenes in which she imagines being on a beach in Mexico in a bikini with the two escaped convicts. The scenes illustrating Mitchell's fantasies seem to be unintentionally comical, which may be the point.

In the end, I'm not sure what the female-oriented Lifetime hopes its viewers get out of this movie.

My cold-hearted thought: Hasn't Mitchell suffered enough for her fantasies without the world seeing how pathetic she really was in 2015?

Despite Miller's performance, this film isn't worth your time. The 90 minutes I spent watching it without commercials seemed like an eternity.

You've be warned.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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