Even the best of families have secrets.
Unfortunately, the family at the center of A Mother’s Lie is hardly one of the best. Sure, they’re wealthy. And sure, they’ve got several very nice and very big homes. But matriarch Joyce (Sonja Smits) is a little bit …. well, unhinged. She was shocked when her teenage daughter, Katherine (Alex Paxton-Beesley) got pregnant. Joyce demanded that Katherine not tell her boyfriend, Chuck (Gabriel Venneri). Instead, Katherine went into hiding for 9 months. When Katherine gave birth, Joyce told her that the baby was stillborn.
Now, 20 years later, Katherine and Chuck are married and they’re raising a daughter, Haley ( Zoe Sarantakis). Katherine has never told Chuck about their first child and Katherine feels guilty about that. When Haley is diagnosed with leukemia and her parents are told that she’ll die without a bone marrow transplant, Katherine can’t help but wish that their first daughter had lived. After all, she would be the perfect donor!
Well, it turns out that Joyce wasn’t being honest when she said that the first baby was stillborn. The baby was born alive and was put up for adoption, without Katherine’s knowledge. Libby (Madelyn Keys) was adopted by a poor but good family. She’s now attending college and dreaming of going to medical school. But how will she be able to pay for it!?
One day, Libby receives an offer from a mysterious benefactor. All Libby has to do is agree to donate some bone marrow to a young girl and Libby will receive more than enough money to pay for medical school! She’ll even be allowed to recuperate in an isolated and mysterious mansion! The only condition is that Libby has to remain anonymous and she can’t have contact with the girl’s family. Of course, Libby agrees!
Yay! Haley’ going to live! Libby’s going to be rich! And the family secrets are going to remain hidden! Except …. well, as I said, Joyce is a little bit unhinged, to the extent that she’s willing to kill anyone who might reveal the secret of what happened the night that Katherine gave birth to Libby. It quickly becomes obvious that Libby is going to be lucky to escape from the mansion with her life….
A Mother’s Lie is an enjoyably gothic Lifetime film, the movie equivalent of one of those old paperback books that always featured a nervous-looking woman standing in front of a shadowy mansion. It even features a sinister housekeeper (played well by Louise Kerr), who will do anything to help Joyce keep her secrets! It’s all appropriately melodramatic and the film is made with enough self-awareness that it never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously. It’s an entertaining Lifetime film, pure and simple.
It’s also a very Canadian film. From the minute I saw Libby casually walking down a snow-covered path on her way to class, I knew that this was a film that made north of the border. That’s not a complaint, of course. Many of the best Lifetime film were made in Canada and I always enjoy spotting former Degrassi actors. And while this film’s cast may not have featured any Degrassi grads, A Mother’s Life was directed by Stefan Brogren, who played Mr. Simpson on that venerable show. He does a good job of keeping the action moving and maintaining a properly gothic atmosphere. It’s an enjoyable 90 minutes.