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'Saint Maybe' an Involving Visit With a Seemingly Perfect Family

November 21, 1998|STEVEN LINAN

No maybe about it. "Saint Maybe," the latest TV movie from "Hallmark Hall of Fame," is a warm, winning family drama about a young man's spiritual transformation and the highly uncertain nature of life.

Based on the novel by Anne Tyler, the story follows several decades as lived by the Bedloes, a loving, humorous and seemingly perfect brood residing on a tranquil, tree-lined street in Baltimore.

Good-natured father (Edward Herrmann) and mother (Blythe Danner) oversee eldest son Danny (Jeffrey Nordling), younger brother Ian (Thomas McCarthy) and sister Claudia (Glynnis O'Connor).

Danny, a 30-year-old postal worker, marries Lucy Ann (Mary-Louise Parker), a flighty divorcee with two kids who gives birth to her third child a mere seven months later, raising a red flag for disdainful Ian, their obliging baby-sitter.

It's a marriage that alters the future of each character, particularly Ian (the film's central protagonist), whose suspicions lead to tragedy.

As the years advance, Ian drops out of college, turns to religion and raises Danny's children, the youngest of whom aptly describes him as "King Careful, Mr. Look-Both-Ways, Saint Maybe."

Through it all, Ian's patient parents grasp the importance of knowing when to be there for the family at large.

Revealing more specifics can only spoil the moving teleplay by Robert W. Lenski, who gives us flawed, vulnerable characters moving in directions that are not always determined by what they want or plan on.

Director Michael Pressman adeptly establishes the film's wistful tone, while drawing uniformly fine performances from his excellent ensemble.

* "Saint Maybe" airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on CBS. The network has rated it TV-G (suitable for all ages).

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