Television review

‘Dirty Little Secret’ ripped from tabloid TV


San Francisco Chronicle

Are you suffering from withdrawal now that HLN has reduced its saturation coverage of the Jodi Arias murder case and turned its focus on the George Zimmerman trial? The Lifetime channel feels your pain and rides to the rescue with Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret, premiering Saturday.

It would be easy to get indignant about the film’s low quality, the script’s unintentional howlers and the unseemliness of rushing the Arias film onto the small screen only weeks after she was found guilty of killing lover Travis Alexander. (The jury was convinced she stabbed him 27 times and fired a bullet into his head in 2008. Arias claimed self-defense.) But Lifetime knows its audience.

That said, watching the movie without benefit of an HLN addiction, it doesn’t always make sense. Yes, Arias (Tania Raymonde, Lost), comes off as a narcissistic, sexually manipulative psycho, but because we never get a convincing take on Alexander (Jesse Lee Soffer, The Mob Doctor), the film is confusing.

Arias and Alexander meet when he’s giving a motivational talk. She’s so taken with him, she follows him into the men’s room. It takes a while for their relationship to get physical, in part because Alexander is a practicing Mormon and tries to adhere to the teachings of his church.

Arias turns on the sexual charm and Alexander folds. His friends are wary of Arias, which is why she does everything she can to keep them away.

However, realizing that Alexander will only marry a fellow Mormon, Jodi decides to convert. She springs the news on Alexander when they are both in the pool, and follows up by diving underwater to perform oral sex on him.

Soon enough, Arias overplays her hand by texting replies to messages Alexander gets from other women, and making a point of flaunting the true nature of their relationship in front of his Mormon friends. When Alexander ends the affair, Arias is one boiled bunny away from Fatal Attraction.

Alexander at first seems to kick some of his religious beliefs to the curb too quickly for credibility, but we can almost accept the power of lust in this case. What we can’t accept in the film is why, after realizing Arias is a psycho stalker, he gives in to lust a second time.

In real life, we know it happened, but the script, by Richard Blaney and Gregory Small, doesn’t make us believe it at all. The screenwriters and director Jace Alexander are wise to focus almost exclusively on the relationship and only briefly on the Arias trial.

For Arias addicts, Dirty Little Secret is likely to be only a momentary fix. But not to worry: The jury may have found her guilty of killing Alexander, but it deadlocked on what her punishment should be. That means there will be a whole new trial on the penalty phase of the case, and you can bet Nancy Grace is already sharpening her nails and whitening her teeth.

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