Custody seems more like a pilot for a brand new show than a stand alone movie. But, even with that said, it is worth checking it out. Characters & Storyline The story is split between three characters. The first being Martha [note]Viola Davis[/note], who is a judge in family court dealing with her son going…

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Custody seems more like a pilot for a brand new show than a stand alone movie. But, even with that said, it is worth checking it out.

Characters & Storyline

The story is split between three characters. The first being Martha [note]Viola Davis[/note], who is a judge in family court dealing with her son going to a PWI [note]Predominately White Institution[/note] and a marriage which is dealing with empty nest syndrome. The second character focused on is Sara[note]Catalina Sandino Moreno[/note]. A mother who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, has a less than stellar past with her husband, [note]who helped her get her papers, [/note] and finds herself as a respondent after an accident leaves her child with a concussion. Lastly, there is Alexandra [note]Hayden Panettiere[/note]. She forewent becoming a lawyer for a law firm and decided to become a public defender. Of which, her first case is Sara’s. Though, her character isn’t solely focused on Sara’s problems but also her own. Such as a family secret she is tired of keeping in the dark.

Collected Quote(s)

I’m not over it but I accept it.


A Different Perspective of Court

Often in courtroom dramas, the judge themselves are barely present figures. They may watch the melodramatics of the lawyers, witnesses and those on trial, but they themselves are often stoic. The same can often be said for the prosecution. Usually, they are touted as the enemy, someone who puts career and ambitions over the people they are dealing with. This film flips that.

With the inclusion of a storyline dealing with a parent who got their kid back, and said kid died months later, you are reminded of how difficult the decision is of what often is touted as the adversary. They have the future of someone in their hands and the wrong decision, too much leniency, thinking more with humanity than logic, it could get someone killed. Plus, we also get to know these people who usually are regulated to making deals or making threats which was a bit refreshing.

Cultural Aspects

Sadly, corporal punishment is ingrained into Black and Latinx culture. So with this movie dealing with a mistake which stemmed from grabbing a child roughly to take them away from harm, it directly addressing what some may see as a problem in the community. But it isn’t just corporal punishment. Also, it deals with the difficulty immigrants may have in this country getting the type of job which they can simply do for 8 hours then be with their kids. It addresses how there are far worse parents, whose kids run wild, who never see that courtroom because their families have money, and I could go on and on.

Though the last one worth noting is why Sara’s husband is in jail. Often times, drug dealers are touted as the scum of society but this film I think helps remind you that like sex work, drug dealing isn’t necessarily a go-to profession. It is something chosen out of desperation, because you don’t have to deal with a computer system filtering you out, waiting two weeks, or more, for your check, and all the other issues which come from seeking an 8-hour job.


Personal Thought: Can’t Viola Davis Play A Happy Person, For Once?

I have not seen every single performance of Viola Davis, but I do see a pattern forming. One in which she never, ever, plays a person who is happy. Her relationship is usually unhealthy due to abuse or cheating, and all the character has is her job. Something she is quite good at but as for her personal life? It is basically a topic best avoided.

Now, I should note, she has a good relationship with her son and sister, maybe dad to her point, so this is progress. However, considering she is another Black woman dealing with issues of being unloved romantically, it’s a sad pattern to perpetuate in her roles.

Ally’s Personal Story Left You Desiring More (It Felt Incomplete)

While everyone’s story sort of ended on an ellipsis, Ally’s is probably the one you are most frustrated didn’t have some sort of resolution. Her personal life has this big family secret she tries to see if anyone knew or acknowledged but her. She wants her grandma [note]Ellen Burstyn[/note]to admit she knew, to do something, say something! Heck, she even threatens to tell her dad so she could get some sort of real response. However, we never learn if she goes there.

Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)

In the film, there are a huge amount of unresolved storylines you’d like to see more of. Be it how Sara is going to help her children heal after being separated from them, how Martha is going to deal with what is happening in her personal life, between her father, husband, and son and then Alexandra’s mess. Considering how her grandmother talks about the family secret and her, Alexandra, threatening to tell her dad, the fact you don’t get to see the conclusion of that storyline, you almost feel like this was a pilot that didn’t get picked up. However, because there was so much shot for the show, and with Viola getting major accolade nominations, Lifetime decided to edit the footage they had into a movie.

Luckily, for those who may be interested in a story like this, Shondaland is working on a legal drama which sounds oddly similar. For more information on it, click this link and you can read all about it on Shadow & Act.

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