Director: Monika Mitchell | 90 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Emmanuelle Vaugier, Bruce Ramsay, George Newbern, Laura Bertram, Nick Mancuso, Jovanna Huguet, Josh Hayden, Chandra Berg, Mark Zeifman, Fulvio Cecere, Vitaly Kravchenko, Leah Graham, Julius Chapple, Teach Grant, Dean Redman, Anna Galvin, Helenna Santos
Television films are works that are not shown in the cinema, and often for a reason. The quality of these films often leaves much to be desired, the stories are corny and the acting performances are often not above average. The comparison with B movies is often not far off. However, sometimes there are exceptions that confirm the rule. ‘Duel’ (1971) by Steven Spielberg, ‘The Last Seduction’ (1994) by John Dahl and from home ‘Familie’ (2001) and ‘Cloaca’ (2003) by Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen are television films with respected actors in the leading roles, films that are critically acclaimed and have won many awards. So do not let yourself be influenced in advance by the predicate “television film”, because who knows, you might miss out on a gem! Unfortunately, “What Comes Around” (2006) is not as strong as the aforementioned films, but that does not mean that this film has nothing to offer.
In What Comes Around, the main character is Carolyn Logan (Emmanuelle Vaugier), a woman in her thirties with an apparently perfect life. She is married to the successful politician Andy (George Newbern), with whom she has two lovely children. She also runs a successful catering company. But her carefree life is turned upside down from one day to the next when a mysterious package is delivered. Carolyn appears to have led a completely different life more than ten years ago. She was a teenage prostitute at the time, who worked under her real name Angie for the tough pimp Jake (Bruce Ramsay). Together with undercover agent Kimberly (Laura Bertram), she ensured that Jake was locked up eleven years ago. But now that he’s free, he’s out for revenge. He is determined to destroy Carolyn and her family – her husband, by the way, knows nothing about this dubious past.
The name of director Monika Mitchell will ring a bell with few film buffs. Nevertheless, this Canadian filmmaker has already won quite a few (small) prizes. Her short film “Night Deposit” from 1999 was particularly praised. In 2004 she made her first and so far only feature “Break a Leg”, but it was not a success. In recent years she has mainly focused on directing television series. In 2006 she made this small foray into the television movie. With a small budget and almost all unknown actors, she manages to make a very nice thriller from the script of the equally little-known Lauren Dale. Of course, the story of “What Comes Around”, also known as “Veiled Truth”, is not very original. We have all seen it more often – and certainly better. But Mitchell manages to hold the attention for the full hour and a half and that is great. Many films with a larger budget and better-known actors cannot do that. Towards the end there is a plot twist that comes completely out of the blue and that you can question. But this improbability does little to detract from the power of the film as a whole.
The acting of the predominantly Canadian cast is surprisingly strong. The exotic Emmanuelle Vaugier is perhaps the most famous face. She is best known for her contributions in horror films such as “Saw II” (2003) and “The Fear: Ressurection” (1999). She herself says: “I’ve been decapitated, drowned, cut with razor sharp blades, my mother is so proud, this is way better than becoming a doctor!” In the adventure film “Secondhand Lions” from 2003, she was given the opportunity to present herself as more than just a scream queen, alongside greats like Michael Caine and Robert Duvall. In What Comes Around, she is credible as a woman who tries to put her dubious past behind her and fight for her family after renewing acquaintance with her former pimp. Bruce Ramsay (“Killing Zoe”, 1994) is also convincing as the slippery bastard who lets his former “employee” do his dirty business. The cast also includes character actor Nick Mancuso (‘Under Siege’, 1994) as a Russian Mafia boss who still has a bone to pick with Jake, and Laura Bertram (known from the youth series ‘Ready or Not’, 1993-1997 ) in a small but important role as undercover cop Kimberly.
“What Comes Around” doesn’t excel in originality. It is the well-known story of a woman who wants to leave her unpleasant past behind but does not get the chance to do so because of her former pimp. A story that you know in advance that it will end well, because that is usually the case with television films. Desondanks knows how to captivate “What Comes Around” from the first to the last minute. And that is an achievement in itself for a film of this caliber.