"Talhotblond" showed how an Internet love triangle led to homicide. Directed by "Cougar Town" star Courteney Cox, Lifetime's version focused on one aspect of the tragic triangle, Thomas Montgomery (Garret Dillahunt). The perfect pacing, impeccable acting, and twisted tale make this one of Lifetime's top movies.Inspired by a true-crime story and Barbara Schroeder's 2009 documentary,
"Talhotblond" opened with the murder scene to hook viewers and then covered the previous two years. Thomas was a married, 40-something dad who led an absolutely predictable, boring life, and didn't quite fit in with the guys at work. His marriage was platonic and dutiful with Carol (Laura San Giacomo) acting more as his mother, sister, or child, depending on the situation.
Initially, the movie's slow pace and repetitive scenes conveyed his sense of drudgery. His daughter enthusiastically described a reality show and told him it was better than real life. Blasé Thomas responded that he didn't know what that meant. With the classic Lifetime movie foreshadowing and irony in play, he soon joined the world of online poker and met 18-year-old Talhotblond, aka Katie.
On a whim, Thomas adopted a fake, younger personality named Tommy and began a virtual affair with Katie. The suspense built as it became an obsession with increasingly complex and fragile lies. When his wife found about it and told Katie the truth, the virtual vixen pursued Thomas' online poker buddy and real-life coworker, Brian (Brando Eaton).
Brian was a likeable young guy who was a bit of a womanizer, but he was kind and a good friend to Thomas. Katie flaunted her relationship with Brian and strung Thomas along to keep the drama going. Thomas murdered Brian and happily took his family on a camping trip before the police caught up with him and unraveled the web of lies.
The unique blend of drama and reality make Lifetime movies lovable and, at times, laughable, but this movie's sex and fantasy scenes were downright creepy. Viewers learned of Thomas' impotence when he clunkily rolled on top of his wife and quickly rolled away. Instead of reinforcing Thomas' break from reality, the fantasies about his younger persona with Katie were jolting and unintentionally funny. The image of him sitting on the family patio, typing with one hand was enough to make anyone give up shaking hands.
Lose the Logo
The distractingly mysterious Lifetime logo looks like it was inspired by the Dharma Initiative and became especially annoying when it covered Katie and Tommy's chat messages. It took the tension out of their first cyber fight and obscured the all-important epilogue. If Lifetime intends to crowd the screen, filmmakers need to adapt their style and provide narration instead of forcing viewers to read overlapping messages.
Documentaries, news programs, and "Law & Order" covered the "Talhotblond" saga with different twists. Lifetime's version left lingering doubts about Katie, but mostly focused on the fall of Thomas. Despite being intensely creepy, he was neither vilified nor sympathetic, leaving viewers to wonder if he was capable of murder all along or driven by obsession.
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