The 24 Hour Woman
Director: Nancy Savoca
Screenplay: Nancy Savoca and Richard Guay
Cast: Rosie Perez, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Patti LuPone
NY Distribution Status: long gone (The Shooting Gallery)

Grade: D

An observation: if your lead actor has a vocal quality that tends to border on the uncomfortably shrill, maybe it's not such a swell idea to pitch the tone of your entire movie to match. So overbearingly hectic that it makes last year's Jerry Springer movie look positively sedate by comparison (no, seriously), The 24 Hour Woman rapidly becomes The 97 Minute Headache, a strident series of high-pitched shouting matches and bogus emotional crises; it's as if Savoca, justifiably disappointed by the scant attention paid to her previous, more thoughtful pictures (e.g., 1991's Dogfight), made a conscious decision to crank the knobs up to 11 this time around. Even at a more reasonable volume level, the film would be an embarrassment, if a less unpleasant one; its premise -- producer of insipid morning show (Perez, playing a character rather pointedly named Grace, as in Under Pressure) finds herself dragged before the lens when she unexpectedly becomes pregnant; must ultimately choose between career fast-track and hands-on motherhood -- is both trite (gee, wonder what her decision will be?) and dishonest (say, why does she have to make a decision at all?), and its pace is ineptly arrhythmic, with some scenes ending abruptly and others droning on and on and on to no apparent purpose. As Grace's more level-headed assistant, a mother returning to the workforce after an absence of several years, Secrets & Lies' Marianne Jean-Baptiste turns in what might well have been an appealing performance; it's impossible to say for sure, sadly, as the character mysteriously vanishes from the picture somewhere in the middle of act two -- so decisively that it's actually a bit startling when she suddenly reappears for the maudlin finale (I think I'd subconsciously assumed that a funeral scene had been cut for time). Oh, and did I mention that Grace winds up threatening her husband with a gun on live television because he hasn't been a supportive father? Grace winds up threatening her husband with a gun on live television because he hasn't been a supportive father. Enough said.