The Baby Dance
1998 | Showtime Networks, Inc., Pacific Motion Pictures, Egg Pictures
Showtime’s The Baby Dance is an extraordinarily powerful and haunting television film written and directed by Jane Anderson and based on her play. The emotions are raw, the dialogue crackling and the performances magnificent and achingly real in her story about two couples from clashing universes whose lives intersect explosively one sweltering Louisiana summer. Laura Dern and Richard Lineback play Wanda and Al LeFauve, a backwoodsy Shreveport couple who live in a cramped trailer home, already have four children, and are too poor to keep the fifth that Wanda is carrying. Stockard Channing and Peter Riegert are monied Rachel and Richard Luckman, a childless Los Angeles couple who have arranged to adopt the LeFauves’ baby, knowing that time is running out for them as they advance deeper into middle age. Although appearing on the face to be just another “feel-good” adoption story en route to the usual crescendo of sobs, The Baby Dance instead presents an intense duel of cultures whose characters eye each other warily across economic and class divides too wide to bridge. The common ground that the two couples briefly find ultimately collapses beneath them, and the LeFauves seem as permanently consigned to their underclass as the Luckmans are to their smug life of isolated privilege. The story is also threaded by tenderness, its signature scene coming when Rachel puts her ear to Wanda’s belly to hear the child she expects to be hers. Although its closing moments are devastating, The Baby Dance never resorts to cheap manipulation. It earns honestly every tear it gets, and for this, receives a Peabody Award.
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