Is this Canadian film from 2018 called The Sweetheart or Dating a Sociopath?
It depends on where you first saw it.
When it was on Netflix, it was called The Sweetheart. However, when the film recently aired on Lifetime, the title had been changed to Dating A Sociopath. We all know how much Lifetime loves to change titles and, in this case, I think they made the right move. Dating A Sociopath just has a certain punch to it that The Sweetheart lacks. The Sweetheart makes it sound like this is a film about one of those old women who always has 60 year-old candy sitting in a glass jar. Whereas Dating A Sociopath tells you pretty much everything that you need to know about the film.
The sociopath of the title is Brian (John Cor), who is a personal trainer who apparently has a nice side gig going where he seduces wealthy women, spends all of their money, and murders them. John Cor does a pretty good job of playing Brian, turning up the charm even while he’s doing some of the worst things imaginable. As played by Cor, you can understand just how exactly Brian has managed to be such a successful con artist. There’s also a great scene in which a jewelry store employee attempts to blackmail Brian and Brian responds not with the expected violence but instead by precisely explaining everything that he will do to the employee if he doesn’t keep quiet. In this scene, Brian is both charismatic and dangerous and scary as Hell.
Brian’s latest target is Samantha (Jessalyn Gilsig), who is currently separated from her well-meaning but alcoholic husband. Samantha thinks that Brian is the best but her oldest daughter, Jane (Hannah Vandenbygaart), is immediately suspicious of him Of course, Jane has problems of her own to deal with. Thanks to her father’s lack of sobriety and basic driving skills, Jane has a broken leg and is forced to spend most of the movie hopping around on either crutches or using a cane. Making things even worse for Jane is the fact that Brian keeps messing with her medication, the better to keep Jane in constant pain and to also fool everyone into thinking that she’s become a pill-popping drug addict.
And I have to say that, as someone who has broken her ankle on multiple occasions and who knows just how Hellish the healing process can be without painkillers, nothing made me dislike Brian more than those scenes where he would sneak into Jane’s room and switch out her medication while she was sleeping. I mean, if I didn’t already know it from the title, those scenes would be all the proof that I needed to know that Brian was a sociopath. At the same time, those scenes also firmly put me on Jane’s side. By the time Jane finally stood up for herself and started her own investigation into Brian’s past, I was ready to jump and cheer.
Dating A Sociopath is a pretty entertaining Lifetime film, even if it wasn’t originally made for Lifetime. John Cor and Hannah Vandenbygaart are both well-cast in the two most important roles and if nothing else, the film will encourage anyone to think twice before dating a sociopath. Even a charming one.