We Were the Mulvaneys (TV Movie 2002) Poster

(2002 TV Movie)

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A family tragedy
jotix1007 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Joyce Carol Oates' prose has not been adapted as much as other American writers for the movies. She is not the most accessible author, but her books pack a tremendous impact for her followers.

This film suffers from the treatment given to it by Joyce Eliason and its director, Peter Werner. It's clear that such a massive novel has to be trimmed to its bare essentials, and it shows in the 90 minutes of film it was given.

Spoilers herein.

Michael Mulvaney has a rude awakening from his suburban-sitcom family life when his daughter, Marianne, is raped at the school prom by one of the jocks that happened to be the son of one of the most influential person in town. His wife Corinne Mulvaney, instead of facing reality and be supportive of the daughter, turns away from her, the same way her father Michael does. Corinne is a cold woman, we don't particularly like her because of the role she takes in the tragedy. Corinne takes the attitude of not speaking about the incident with the rest of her children, trying perhaps to shelter them from the truth.

Marianne is the butt of cruel jokes in school where everybody knows what really happened to her. Whatever friends she had, instead of being compassionate, they take the jock's side and Marianne has to be exiled to an aunt's house in a nearby town. Thus, this tragedy begins.

We watch as the once popular Mulvaneys begin to fall out of grace in their close knitted community, losing most of their money, the farm, and as a family, they start to unravel. Nothing will make them go back to their glory days. The biggest toll is on the father, who becomes a drunk; he deserts the family, who is left alone to fend for themselves. They will reunite at the end, but after it's too late to make amends and save the family.

Beau Bridges, as the patriarch, is excellent. This is an under estimated actor who is so versatile, he tends to lose himself from one film to the next. Blythe Danner, on the other hand, is not quite the mother we expected to see. Perhaps with the direction given to her, she makes us not appreciate the nuance with which she plays this character.

The real surprise was Tammy Blanchard who played Marianne. At the beginning she is a shy, perhaps sheltered girl who through no fault of her own is made into a victim because of that same naivite quality we see in her. Ms Blanchard makes a beautiful and sweet Marianne.
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Emotionally explosive; Beau Bridges superb
ovadue18 August 2002
The story could be explained in one minute from beginning to end and the movie runs a little slowly at times...But the emotional impact transferred to the movie watcher is powerful. Beau Bridges is the consummate actor once again displaying a wide variety of emotion without ever appearing that he is acting. I would have preferred that the dialogue give us a little break so that the stress the movie produces could ease before it starts up again.

All in all, a healthy 7.
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Above average TV movie
Gore_Won8 June 2008
It might be difficult for the younger generations to understand the progression of this movie's plot. We know now that women have rights, too, that they are sometimes violated against their will, and that hidden secrets have a way of coming out against our will.

But people just a few decades ago did not know that. Just three decades ago, a women was presumed to have invited a man to have sex with her if she cried rape. Sexual abuses were hushed, pregnant girls sent away in group homes.

I suspect that women from past eras will find this film provoking, and the younger ones will do well to see how much progress has been achieved since. We still have a long way to go, of course.
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Tammy Blanchard, pure greatness
monica_garland15 April 2003
I'm actually not a big fan of the movie itself, but I think it's worth watching if you want to see a marvelous performance by a great young actress. Tammy Blanchard is amazing as Marianne Mulvaney. Blythe and Beau are good as always but young Tammy is the star of this one.

Not a great adaptation of the book though, 7.5/10
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Doesn't really keep you at the edge of your seat, But entertaining enough
Stonedwithoutdope19 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is meant to be a sad and inspiring drama based on a popular novel. I hadn't read the novel and didn't know what to expect. While watching it though I couldn't help but find it hilarious. Not in a bad way though. They take the viewer into the image of a perfectly happy Christian family with no troubles and a great life. They quickly corrupt this image to their full extent with a series of rape, violence, excessive alcohol drinking, child disowning, child-abuse, illegal weapon use and near murder.

The plot is fairly simple. A family must test their faith and selflessness when a series of vile acts are befell upon them.

Not too intense though and not really the best movie to watch if your bored. It doesn't seem to go in too many directions. Stays fairly simple so the majority of people would probably leave their seat halfway through. But this movie is easy to just sit down too if you want to get in deep with your thoughts. 5/10
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Sopay yes, but not a bad movie
steven_c6411 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Although this movie was very emotional, it is more than a soap opera. I think it speaks to religion and the pitfalls of blind faith. Also, I think the competent cast elevated it above mere soap.

The story is about a family that functions at a high level - as long as there are no bumps in the road. When the family is tested, not every family member has the inner strength or character to keep the family together.

The father sends the daughter away because 'he loves her so much he can no longer look at her'. The mother supports the father, blindly hoping things will work out. The daughter loves the father so much she believes he will change and call for her to come home. She desperately waits for him to call her home, suspended in a state of sadness and shame. She prays and relies on her religion to help her through it. But is is not until she seemingly gives up on God to help her that she slowly unravels from her despair. Weak and lost throughout the story, it it not until she finds the strength to forgive her father and mother so she can move beyond the past and find a life for herself.

Once the father - the supposed rock the family was built on - is gone, the family unites again.
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Fodder for hanky wringers
=G=20 March 2004
"We Were the Mulvaneys" tells of a nauseatingly, oh so perfect family not unlike "Father Knows Best" or "Ozzie and Harriet" who suffer a tragedy, a rape, which begins a chain of events resulting in the fission of the nuclear family. Pausing to dwell on the emoting while skipping through time for the rest of the story, everything which happens in this squeaky clean contrivance seems to be little more than an excuse for melodrama making this film just more low budget TV drama queen fodder for Lifetime channel hanky-wringers. Pretty awful stuff made for those who can swallow huge choking gulps of stereotypes, cliches, and melodrama. Recommended for soap opera fans and the like. You know who you are. (C+)
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Terrible Casting
janey833 February 2003
Blythe danner as Corinne is inspired, yet for some reason the feeling of the movie was so terribly insipid compared to the book. The rest of the actors seemed very stiff and not to understand themselves within the context of the story; particularly Marianne's character. And the costumes sucked. Whenever I read this novel I think it would be perfect for a movie, but unfortunately this version fell threw. I hope they option it for the big screen using some more talented actors or at least a more talented director.
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It is just amazing to see how one single event can change and affect the entire outcome of your life.
KRJ54823 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The Mulvaneys were the ideal, story-book family and every one seemed to have high hopes for his or her future ahead--but then tragedy struck one family member, forever altering the lives of the Mulvaney family.

This movie is a real tear-jerker and its emotional impact can last throughout its entire run, from the time of the rape and that explosive car scene where Marianne has an apparent anxiety attack, to the ending (spoiler) when the father dies. I just love how this movie made you feel the compassion and empathy for the characters through the great acting and the writing.

This movie also shows how a personal tragedy like rape can actually evolve to be not so personal after all. That single event created a chain of other tragedies that occur to the rest of the family.

Rating: 8.5/10
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blackbeagle-3357926 May 2019
Are they supposed to be real? The most perfect family having the most perfect lives in the most perfect town with the most perfect weather. Every moment is the pinnacle of WASP Thanksgiving. And most importantly they are all cheerful chatterboxes who gently tease each other chattering away simultaneously.

I have to believe that the filmmakers completely missed Joyce Carol Oates pitch perfect black satire
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Poor adaption of book.
PatrynXX11 April 2002
It coulda been better. This movie has a very rushed feeling about it. And the movie doesn't match the book.

It does have a great sense of emotion in this movie however.


Quality: 7/10 Entertainment: ? Replayable: 3/10
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'We were the Mulvanneys'
upminster5924 May 2006
'We were the Mulvanney's is one of the most powerful films about the family I have ever seen. It is brilliant especially seen through the eyes of the the teenage youngest of four, his helplessness and yet his belief in his siblings, most of all his love for them. It is a measure for all families who downward spiral, one that is left unchecked by so called parents. The central characters have intelligence, and above all love. Familys are important and this film seeks to warn the viewer of great emotional losses that can be avoided. However, it takes more than one family member to be positive to redress the problems some parents find unsolvable. Joyce Kelly.
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jasjgm17 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
A good drama, but may be a bit dispiriting. Beau Bridges does an excellent job as the prideful father; however, Blythe Danner's character seems to be in the gray area. Somehow I do not understand her position as mother of the Mulvaneys; is it in the script or is it just her acting? The cast in general did okay, nothing too special though.

****possible spoiler****

The story itself is a bit depressing. Of course, we don't expect any happy endings here, but somehow the ending did not justify what had happened. If you like movies with hanging endings and a big sore which doesn't seem to heal up to the end, then this tv-movie is for you. 7/10
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