Death Saved My Life
By Jennifer Green,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Domestic abuse drama has violence, suspense, some drinking.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Don't judge people based on their wealth, social status, or professional careers. People with histories of mental illness or drug abuse can turn their lives around. It's possible to escape from even the worst situations. Don't lose hope.
Positive Role Models
Jade shows courage, fortitude, and cunning in outsmarting her husband. Ed is a respected heart surgeon and appears to be the perfect husband, but he's a violent and abusive man willing to take the lives of others. Jade is also a loving mother and a supportive sister. Her sister supports her through difficult times. The police can be relied on to do their jobs. Diverse cast.
Violence & Scariness
Scenes of emotional and physical domestic abuse include Ed threatening Jade, hitting her, slicing up her new dress, calling her names, accusing her of affairs, pushing her up against a wall, leaving her face bruised, and trying to strangle her. Ed hires a hit man who points a gun at Jade on a couple of occasions but doesn't shoot. Jade sneaks around and nearly gets caught, putting herself in risky situations. She hits a man and knocks him over with a large object. When Jade goes missing, her house is covered in blood and broken glass. Explicit photos supposedly showing a dead body are sent to police; other photos show a person's face turning into a skeleton. Ed does open-heart surgeries with blood-covered tools; in one case, a patient's pulse drops precipitously. When he hears noises in his house, he shoots a bullet through a glass door, prompting the police to send their daughter to Child Protective Services.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple hug and kiss. Jade buys a sexy dress. Ed is jealous of other men coming anywhere near Jade, and he accuses her of flirting or having affairs.
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"Bitch," "whore," "leech."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol at events, dinners, and celebrations. Ed begins drinking heavily. He goes into a heart surgery with breath smelling of alcohol and shaky hands. The hit man drinks and smokes. There's talk of medications for bipolar disorder and depression. Leigh is said to have a history of drug abuse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Death Saved My Life is a tale inspired by the true story of a woman named Jade who fakes her own death in order to escape an abusive husband. There are scenes of emotional and physical abuse, and Jade is hit, pushed against a wall, and accused of disloyal behavior. Her husband tries to strangle her, slices up her new dress, and calls her a "whore" and a "bitch." He threatens to kill her and her sister and eventually hires a hit man to do the job. Expect to see blood and some scary photographs, including what looks like a dead body, as well as plenty of suspense. The husband, a heart surgeon, thinks he's being haunted and starts acting more and more erratic and drinking heavily, including before doing open-heart surgery. The wealthy couple, who exchange hugs and kisses at the start of the film, have a young daughter who seems only tangentially aware of trouble but at one point is taken away by Child Protective Services. The woman, who is said to have struggled in the past with depression which requires medication, shows courage and cunning in escaping the abusive relationship. Her sister, who is said to have bipolar disorder and a history of drug abuse, also courageously helps her escape.
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Death Saved My Life
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What's the Story?
Jade (Meagan Good) and Ed (Chike Okonkwo) seem to lead a charmed existence in DEATH SAVED MY LIFE. She's a talented marketing executive winning professional awards, and he's an esteemed heart surgeon with friends in the right places, including the local police sergeant. They live in a beautiful home with their young daughter, Kayla (Sa'Raya Paris Johnson). But all is not as it appears on the surface. Ed has a history of abusing Jade, physically and emotionally. Jade has also suffered from depression since her parents died, and her sister Leigh (played by Meaghan Good's real-life sister La'Myia Good), who has apparently struggled with bipolar disorder and drug abuse, is only recently back in her life. When Jade decides she has to escape Ed or risk losing her life, she fakes her own death to try to entrap Ed and expose him as the abuser he is.
Is It Any Good?
This is a well-acted film with a worthy message that could encourage important conversations about domestic violence. Even though Death Saved My Life is based on real events, some scenarios are slightly far-fetched, which could undermine its consequence for some audiences. It's hard not to question why Jade keeps putting herself in risky situations to try to convince her ex-husband he's being haunted, waiting for him to slowly go crazy. Wouldn't it have been easier to just record his interactions with the hit man, since she's already trailing them? The daughter also seems strangely unaffected by her mother's absence. There are a few stilted dialogues at the start of this made-for-TV movie, and some unnecessary jumping around in time to get to the main event (Jade faking her death).
Even despite the implausibility, this film manages to maintain suspense as Jane lurks around and repeatedly puts herself in danger's way as she plots to bring down Ed. The real-life Good sisters, playing on-screen sisters Jade and Leigh, are convincing as fearful yet resolute women used to having to fight for their survival. Okonkwo is charming as the good doctor with the perfect public image and barely controlled temper. He brings to life the reality that what goes on behind closed doors in an abusive relationship is frequently not at all what people perceive outside the home, and that abused women often struggle to denounce or escape abusive partners.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how domestic abuse is portrayed in Death Saved My Life. Why does Ed tell Jade most people would believe him over her if she were to accuse him publicly? Why does she believe him?
How does Jade show courage in escaping Ed? Why is this an important character strength in everyday life, not just in extreme circumstances like the ones portrayed in this movie?
The film is inspired by true events. Where could you go to find out more information about the true story behind this film?
What are the ethics of making a movie based on a real story? Do you think the filmmakers need permission of any kind?
- On DVD or streaming: February 13, 2021
- Cast: Meagan Good, Chiké Okonkwo, La'Myia Good
- Director: Seth Jarrett
- Inclusion Information: Black actors, Latinx actors
- Studio: Lifetime Television
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Character Strengths: Courage
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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