For One More Day

Film
3 out of 5 stars
SUICIDE SOLUTION  Imperioli contemplates the coward's way out.
Photograph: Myles Aronowitz/ABC SUICIDE SOLUTION Imperioli contemplates the coward’s way out.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The anonymous Lloyd Kramer has one of the most enviable patronage gigs in show business: Of the eight made-for-TV movies he’s directed, half have titles that formally begin with the words Oprah Winfrey Presents. Kramer’s latest sounds even weightier and more saccharine than usual—technically, it’s Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day. But the hipster-repellent title belies the grit and emotional authenticity that make the tale a legitimate American tragedy, at least until the author of Tuesdays with Morrie starts laying things on way too thick in the final minutes.

Michael Imperioli delivers a brooding, Brando-esque performance as Charley “Chick” Benetto, a washed-up ballplayer and all-around alcoholic loser who is a nanosecond away from blowing his brains out when he has a vision of his mother, Posey (Ellen Burstyn), who died nine years earlier. In the classic ghost story tradition, the film is framed by Chick telling his story to a skeptical listener, in this case a young reporter (Emily Wickersham). As the title suggests, Chick spends a final day with his mother, and while she inevitably has homilies to dispense, many have the bitter sting of truth to them (she rues how children tend to “start thinking of themselves as a burden rather than a wish granted”). Much more interesting than the actual day are the flashbacks (in which Imperioli’s son Vadim plays the prepubescent Chick) showing how Chick’s baseball dreams made him a bargaining chip in an endless struggle between his gruff dad (Scott Cohen) and the younger Posey (Samantha Mathis, who skillfully syncs her performance with Burstyn’s). Day has a gray, East Coast look to it that, combined with the near-complete lack of music, makes the film seem a good bit tougher than it is. Even so, O. Henry would be proud.

—Andrew Johnston

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