Khaila Richards (played by Halle Berry) is a crack addict with a severe and expensive habit. Her home is in a dingy part of town and she lives for her next hit. When she’s high, she’s barely conscious and when she’s low, all she can think about is her next high. One day, Khaila awakens in a daze and must get a fix, but her baby son, Isaiah, is screaming for milk – she can’t deal with both at once so she leaves Isaiah in a cardboard box in the alley while she scores. Much later, when she comes around, she realises she’s left Isaiah in the box and goes to get him. In the meantime, a dump-truck has cleared all the rubbish from the alley … Isaiah’s gone. Across town, Margaret Lewin (by Jessica Lange) is the social worker on duty when a baby boy is brought into care after being found in the street. She immediately connects with him and she persuades her husband Charles (by David Strathairn) that they should adopt him. Years later, Kahlia discovers that Isaiah is still alive and works with her lawyer Kadar Lewis (by Samuel L. Jackson) to get the five year old boy (by Marc John Jefferies) back from the Lewins.
For the most part this is a nice, family oriented, drama – I would have also described it as predictable, but the ending saves it from that fate. It is best viewed on television now, but I think at the time it may have explored some controversial issues. In that sense it is worthwhile. The performances are all fine – Jessica Lange brings deep emotion to her performance, David Strathairn is reliable and Samuel L. Jackson is good as the lawyer fighting for Kahlia’a rights. Best is Halle Berry in her early scenes when she demonstrates that same gritty, raw talent as she did in “Monster’s Ball” to depict a woman who faces such challenges and difficulties in her life – that’s really good. Later she becomes a little too bland. However, the ending is thought-provoking.
Made in 1995. Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal