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Film Review: 'Only Mine'

A young woman finds herself isolated and terrified by a deranged boyfriend in this poignantly realistic drama.

With college just around the corner, small town waitress Julie Dillon (Amber Midthunder) is ready to start a new chapter of her life. Things change, however, when Julie meets newly hired police officer David Barragan (Brett Zimmerman), she finds herself smitten. Handsome and charming, David initially proves to be a perfect boyfriend.

However, after an incident where Julie is unable to answer David's texts, Julie begins to see a darker side of David—one that is possessive and intent on having Julie all to himself. When Julie attempts to end things and move on, she finds herself subject to vicious gossip started by David and unable to receive protection from the police. As things quickly escalate, Julie discovers that David's obsession knows no limits—and that he would sooner kill her than let go of what he believes is his.

Abusive relationships have always been a hot button topic utilized by Lifetime for its films, and Only Mine (made by MarVista Entertainment, but not broadcast on Lifetime as of yet) is no exception. However, unlike other Lifetime movies about a woman struggling to escape a dangerous ex-lover, Only Mine takes a more realistic approach to its all-too-real conflict and is very much better for it. Based off the true story of domestic abuse survivor Laura Kucera, Only Mine aims to tackle the subject of relationship abuse in a more forward and poignant light and, for the most part, the film succeeds in that goal.

As played by Amber Midthunder, Julie is an achingly sympathetic protagonist who goes from carefree and bright-eyed to terrified and isolated as her dream man becomes a nightmare. While starry eyed upon first being romanced by David, Julie is quick to pick up on his possessive and controlling nature and makes the wise move in putting distance between them and informing the police of her fears. Unfortunately, with David's role as a popular man in a close-knit community, Julie finds herself at the brunt of malicious rumors spread by David and portrayed as an unstable liar, leaving her isolated as David's actions take a turn for the violent and deranged.

Brett Zimmerman's performance as stalker cop David is a precarious one, as other reviewers have accused his performance as being too over-the-top. But despite some moments of pushing the envelope too close to ham-fisted territory, Zimmerman gives a chillingly realistic depiction of a brazen and entitled stalker, mixing David's psychosis and arrogance into a combination that makes you both fear him and root to see him earn his comeuppance for his crimes.

In side performances, Claudia Ferri and Lorenzo James Henrie give likable and proactive performances as Julie's respective mother and best friend, and Walter Fauntleroy shines as an FBI sergeant who is quick to blast the town for turning a blind eye to Julie's ordeal. Chris Browning also delivers as Chief Stephen Dodd, playing Dodd's initial unwillingness to see the truth and later remorse for his inaction with poignant realism, and Ashley Holliday Tavares makes an impact as Julie's no-nonsense friend Suzanne, who never once falls for David's meek facade and does everything in her power to stand by her friend.

The film's style of presenting its story is also unique, as it is told in a flashback style, with various characters at times being shown in interviews talking about what transpired. The style is not only a departure from the usual storytelling formula, but it also lends Only Mine an air of suspense. As we listen to everyone cryptically speak of the tragedy that has rocked their small town, we're left wondering what has happened and (more importantly) what has become of Julie and David. This tension keeps the viewer waiting to see the conclusion, and it's one that more than delivers on the buildup.

While it certainly takes liberties on the true story it draws inspiration from, Only Mine serves as a strong and authentic movie that is less about dramatic flair and more about showcasing an all-too-real threat in our world and the story of a young woman who fought back to overcome such a threat. Only Mine proves to be more emotionally impactful than your average Lifetime-esque thriller, and is all the better for it.

Score: 8.5 out of 10 intrigue-building arm slings.

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Film Review: 'Only Mine'
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