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Til Death Do Us Part
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Til Death Do Us Part is a thriller/drama about domestic violence. Expect to see disturbing scenes of a man slapping and choking his wife, even when she's visibly pregnant. Additional violence includes a glossed-over marital rape, a fistfight, and an on-camera death, but overall there's a lot more menace than gore. Sex is discussed but not shown; language includes a use of "f--k." While the movie (which stars Taye Diggs, Annie Ilonzeh, and Stephen Bishop) certainly portrays domestic violence negatively, the way the wife deals with the terrible situation -- i.e., scheming to fake her own death -- could well send a confusing message to younger viewers (Why didn't she go to the authorities?).
What's the story?
In TIL DEATH DO US PART, Madison (Annie Ilonzeh) and Michael (Stephen Bishop) seem to have the perfect marriage ... turns out it's too perfect. He turns out to have some serious control and rage issues and becomes abusive, repeatedly slapping and choking her even when she's visibly pregnant. So Madison goes to extremes to escape him, faking her death and running away. Starting over with a new identity in a new town, she finds herself reluctantly drawn to hunky widower Alex (Taye Diggs). But loose threads in Madison's plan might lead Michael back to her ... and her new baby.
Is it any good?
You'd like to give a movie that condemns domestic violence at least a participation medal for sincerity, but this one takes such a slow and convoluted route that it staggers to the finish line. Not only that, but director/co-writer Chris Stokes' Til Death Do Us Part conspicuously borrows from other films in the genre, particularly Sleeping with the Enemy and Enough. Til Death is apparently intended as a thriller but plays more as a heavy-handed drama. And the characters choices aren't what you'd call logical. Get a restraining order and divorce your abusive husband, you say? Too easy! Instead, Madison cooks up her harebrained scheme, faking her death, changing her identity, and moving to a not-far-enough-away city. Leaving aside the insurance fraud that sets up her new life and her plan's extreme inattention to detail (she and her co-conspirators decline to list a time of death on hospital records ... then actually check her out of the hospital), the issue of leading Michael to believe that his unborn child is dead also isn't addressed.
Luckily for Madison, her new next-door neighbors turn out to be the world's handsomest and most swell widower and his spunky daughter. As Madison reluctantly develops feelings for Alex, the loose ends of her plan form a pretty clear trail for Michael to follow (surprise, surprise). The dialogue is loaded with clumsy exposition ("[That's] what you always wanted!" "I always wanted [this]!" "I know you always wanted [this]," etc.). Moments of electricity between characters are few and far between, despite a winsome performance from Diggs. And Bishop does a good job conveying Michael's extremes, but there's no connective tissue -- the script and direction don't show us why he transforms from perfect man to abusive swine to grieving widower to delusional psychopath. Emotional resonances are missed: A man whose wife died in childbirth is asked to witness his new love's labor ... no problem! The twists are telegraphed, questions are left unanswered, it all takes a very long time to get there, and it feels awfully familiar along the way. On the bright side, it does say domestic violence is a no-no, it's lushly shot, and pretty much the entire cast is easy on the eyes. So there's that.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Til Death Do Us Part depicts violence -- and specifically domestic violence. Do you think it sincerely condemns domestic violence? Why or why not? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How do you feel about the film's representations of its black characters?
What did you think of Madison's scheme? Did it seem well thought out? What could she have done instead?
- In theaters: September 29, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2018
- Cast: Annie Ilonzeh, Taye Diggs, Stephen Bishop
- Director: Chris Stokes
- Studio: Novus Content
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements involving domestic abuse, violence, some sexuality and language
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.