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TV Reviews : Sibling Rivalry in 'Jacob Have I Loved'

May 13, 1989|LYNNE HEFFLEY

When one child is unusually talented, less-favored siblings often tread an uphill path to compete. In "Wonderworks' " "Jacob Have I Loved," today at 7 p.m. on Channels 28 and 50 and at 8 p.m. on Channel 15, an angry and unhappy teen sulks in her musically gifted twin's shadow, until finally realizing her own special gifts.

In a tiny Chesapeake fishing community, Louise (Bridget Fonda--granddaughter of Henry, daughter of Peter) earns extra money crab-catching to help pay for twin sister Caroline's (Jenny Robertson) voice lessons. She is tormented by the hatred and envy she feels for golden Caroline.

When Hiram (John Kellogg), an old sea captain with a past, befriends her and makes her feel special, Louise begins a slow, painful process of self-discovery.

Director Victoria Hochberg's convenient adaptation of Katherine Paterson's Newbery Award-winning novel, however, may disappoint the author's fans.

Hochberg's changes in chronology and emphasis skim the surface of Paterson's deeply felt portrait of adolescent \o7 angst\f7 . In the book, Caroline's selfishness was unthinking, due to delicate health and a drive to develop her extraordinary musical talent. Paterson let it be seen how Louise's own anger made her oblivious when Caroline tried to make a connection.

Here, Caroline is sly and snide, so that Louise seems more her sister's victim than a victim of circumstance.

It's well-filmed and the cast is good, particularly Kellogg and Mary Fogarty as Louise's unpleasant Grandma, who taunts Louise by comparing her to the Biblical twin Esau: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. . . ." It disconcerts the ear however, when Robertson speaks with a Southern drawl, while Fonda doesn't.

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