Little Assassin Suffers from Overkill

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A tawdry romance with a world leader, followed by a scandal
-- but for a change, it isn't ripped from today's headlines, but from
yesterday's.

My Little Assassin, due soon on Lifetime Television,
purports to be "inspired by actual events" surrounding the rise to power by and
a love affair of Fidel Castro.

In keeping with the overriding tabloid tone, it should have
been called, I Had Fidel's Love Child. The filmmakers couldn't seem to
decide whether they wanted to do a cold war spy thriller or "Danielle Steel
lite."

Gabriele Anwar -- so winning as the object of affection in Scent
of a Woman
-- is a goofy, rootless romantic named Marita Lorenz. The daughter of an
oft-absent CIA agent mom and a cruise-ship-captain father, she meets "El Jefe"
during a port of call in Havana when she is 19.

She has some moony notion about the nobility of the
revolution, so when Castro and his cronies barge onto the ship for a tour, of course, she
is smitten. (Is it the potbelly? The way he says "Cooo-ba?" The untrimmed
beard?)

Daddy says no and sails her away, but she can't resist
when Castro sends one of his embassy workers for her in New York to come be the
leader's "secretary."

She's daft enough to get pregnant while at her duties,
but before she delivers, she has a misadventure in her pregnancy. Did Fidel's men
dope her and try to kill the baby? Did undercover agents for the CIA try to kill
Castro's offspring? You'll have to watch to find out.

There are several unsavory aspects to this partially true
story. The blatant manipulation of Marita by everyone including her secret-agent mother
(Jill Clayburgh, who gets to do little but look fierce) is troubling and makes for a
one-dimensional adventure. And Joe Mantegna is little more than a caricature of Castro.

The only one who breaks through is Robert Davi. He always
plays a great villain, and he is intriguing here as undercover operative Frank Sturgis.

There are many unsavory elements to this film, not the
least of which is an extended scene during which an overzealous Federal Bureau of
Investigation man shows Marita photos of an aborted fetus purported to be hers and asserts
that in this holy war, Jesus wants to kill Castro as a way to "set herself
free."

My Little Assassin will debut on Lifetime Oct. 11 at 9
p.m.

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