Lifetime Television’s original telefilms have so frequently and consistently grabbed high ratings this year that their performance can be viewed as old news. Tonight’s premiere of The Last Sign figures to be no different. The thriller stars Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) as a widow who finds post-grief love with an engineer (Samuel Le Bihan). This story leans a little on scenarios seen in past films as the abusive, alcoholic husband haunts his former wife and she’s forced to overcome her past to move forward in her life.
While Sign figures to draw its share of young, female viewers, it’s Human Trafficking, Lifetime’s first foray into the televised miniseries, that deserves to draw a wider audience.
This two-parter is a valuable and informative depiction of a world in which women are shipped across and kidnapped within borders and forced into unpaid prostitution at the hand of an unforgiving, misogynistic commander. By and large, this subject remains under the radar, with many unaware of its existence. Others believe it’s confined to Third World countries. This production is a wince-inducing testimony to the contrary. What Showtime’s Our Fathers did for the Roman Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal, Trafficking does for the existence of a world of sexual enslavement inside American borders.
Trafficking attacks its subject with the voracity of a mother rescuing her kidnapped child. But it’s not gratuitous sex or violence that makes this two-part series uncomfortable to watch. Connecting the dots of what happens to these unsuspecting girls — and boys — incapable of defending themselves under the circumstances is unsettling.
The miniseries stars Academy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), who portrays an undercover federal agent investigating the crime alongside her boss, Golden Globe and Emmy-Award winning actor Donald Sutherland (M*A*S*H, Citizen X). Their performances highlight, but don’t interfere with the message. BAFTA Award-winning actor Robert Carlyle (Hitler: The Rise of Evil, The Full Monty) plays the leader of the sex ring.
Human Trafficking Part I premieres Monday, Oct. 24, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), followed by Part II on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).