It’s never too late to reinvent yourself, and family is what you make of it.
Family Pictures is the third movie in the Jane Green sequence, and not only has Lifetime struck gold with their book-to-screen series but with this particular author.
She has 20 books and 17 bestsellers, and at this rate, Lifetime could make a movie about every last one of them and hold our undivided attention. They need to get on that expeditiously!
There are common themes of found family, second chances, finding and reinventing yourself, pursuing your dreams, and an unmistakable love letter to womanhood. In other words, they had me at hello and kept me with delicious drama and noteworthy actresses.
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Family Pictures gave us a double dose of those with Elisabeth Röhm and Justina Machado.
And Matt Passmore’s smarmy Mark should’ve thought twice about marrying two women in the likelihood those two women would meet, since, by the end of the movie, they weren’t having any of his shit.
I pity the fool who thinks it’s a good idea to marry two women and have separate lives and families. Why would you willingly subject yourself to that much stress and work? Wouldn’t you get tired?
Mark didn’t even use a different last name or identity. He put zero effort into this double-life thing which makes it shocking he was able to get away with it for so long. Mark can join To Have and To Hold’s Joe in the trash bin; it’s where they belong.
To give credit where it’s due, his funniest and his most entertaining moment was how quickly he skedaddled out of the mansion when he heard Eve. You would’ve thought Satan himself was hot on his tail the way he hauled ass, and he left them all hanging from that point on.
He knew when the jig was up and when he needed to cut ties and bolt, but it’s a special kind of cowardice to leave two families he claimed to love in the lurch as he ran from the law.
The epic moment of Eve seeing her dad in her new best friend’s family photos would’ve been avoided if Sylvie (the selective helicopter parent) went with her daughter to New York as most parents do.
Where did she think Eve was staying in a different state on the other side of the country?
Eve: Is that your … DAD?!
Buck: Are you OK?
Eve: My — my dad is in your picture!
Mark was but a catalyst for the real love story during this movie. Yes, the real love story was between Maggie and Sylvie. Sorry, Diner Dude whose name I don’t remember, it’s the truth.
Mark’s wives and secret lives could not be more different. Maggie was the one we followed closely, and I almost feel as though the story could’ve been more interesting if it focused on Sylvie a bit more, but Maggie is who required growth, so I get it.
Maggie was a classic example of someone who didn’t necessarily forget where she came from but made it her life’s mission to never go back, so she became someone else. Who she became was an uppity, Stepford who spent more time keeping up with the Joneses than paying attention to her kids.
Let’s face it; Maggie was THE WORST. Moments into the movie and a girl was rolling her eyes and saying “f*ck, Ruthie Dunbar” more than once. How can one woman obsess so much over what another snooty woman says or thinks?
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Find a hobby! Maggie was all the more irritating for a while because of her past as a girl who grew up in a trailer park. You would’ve never guessed it as she paraded around in designer clothes and whined about inconsequential things that didn’t matter.
Maggie: Did that taste like collagen?
Mark: Yeah, a little bit.
It was apparent Mark didn’t love her anymore, which was sad. They weren’t having sex anymore, and he shuddered at the monster he created with this privileged Barbie who spent all of her time discussing new ways to impress their ritzy neighbors.
Why didn’t he leave? Who knows?! He also lacked any form of connection with Buck and Grace, so it seemed as though he gave up on the entire family, but he never told them he did.
Mark was the most lovey-dovey and paternal with Sylvie and Eve. They were the picture-perfect family, so it came as a surprise to discover he was only married to Sylvie for a decade, and he wasn’t even Eve’s biological father.
Mark must have gotten off on rescuing Sylvie and Eve. They catered to his inner hero. He was the one who helped Sylvie kick her drinking habit, and he rescued Eve as a child and was concerned about Eve’s bulimia.
Maybe once upon a time, he loved how he saved Maggie from a life of low-income, but she was far removed from the person over the years, and he probably didn’t get that hero worship from her anymore.
The unspoken thing about addiction, however, is no one gets over their addiction — at best, they redirect it towards something healthier. Sylvie gave up drinking, but she lost herself in Mark.
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Mark was Sylvie’s new fix, and while most of the movie, Sylvie came across as the most centered and the backbone of both families, her flaws came in the form of the hold Mark had on her when he showed up.
Sylvie: You have kids, and you don’t get to quit.
Maggie: They’re better off without me. I’m a mess of moms fails.
Sylvie: Moms fail, and we try harder, and then we fail harder, but we don’t quit.
Sylvie was fierce. She damn near reenacted the famous Cher scene from Moonstruck where she smacked that doof and told him to snap out of it. She was channeling Queen Edna Mode energy when she hopped on a flight, waltzed into Maggie’s mansion, and told the hot mess of a woman to get herself together.
Sylvie was #Goals while Maggie was wallowing in the fact that her life had blown up in a matter of days, and she would have to slum it with the poor again. Sylvie didn’t have time to wallow; she had a daughter who needed to go to rehab.
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And the amount of strength was the best, but then Maggie accidentally siphoned it from her and Sylvie was reduced to this weakling who fell for Mark’s shenanigans when he broke into their house after being on the run for MONTHS.
Anyway, Maggie needed this reality check so she could figure out how to get her life in order and woman up, but it sucked how it came at the expense of Sylvie.
The mighty had fallen when Maggie moved into the cabin left in her name. Boy, that place needed a lot of work. It wasn’t even a charming cabin either; it was somewhere you reluctantly stay after you realized the pictures on Groupon were lies, but you already got a deal, and you’re committed.
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I’m not nearly as pretentious and bougie as Maggie, and I would have turned my nose up at that dump, but when your no-good husband has left you in the red and homeless, you don’t have options.
Maggie also channeled her mother and rocked her job as a diner waitress. However, the sweetest moments were how she and Sylvie supported one another and chatted and became best friends over the months despite being on opposite coasts.
Laura: How are you doing? Are you OK?
Maggie: I have a job, Laura. Not cancer.
As I said, the real love story of this movie was the one between Maggie and Sylvie, which is why Sylvie wavering when Mark returned sucked and why Maggie randomly finding love with Diner Dude was a waste. Although, it did lead to a steamy romp in a pickup truck.
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Was it hot? Yes. Am I judging Maggie for craving vitamin D after however long of not sleeping with her husband? Not at all.
Did a new romance need to be shoehorned into the story? Nah.
The more time spent with the ladies and their evolving friendship and kinship, the better it was. Mark exploiting Sylvie’s feelings for him interfered with that.
Gosh, Mark was abysmal, and there was no end to it.
Mark [to Sylvie]: Come with me. You know I love you. You’re my real wife.
Sylvie passed the badass brain cell over to Maggie around the time Sylvie let Mark sleep on the couch. From that point on, Sylvie was the one who slipped into weak moments with her sympathy for Mark and then surrendering to her addiction in his and Eve’s absence.
Maggie wasn’t playing around when she scrounged money up and cashed in on points to fly out to California. I would’ve done the same.
She knew Mark was a fugitive, an awful person, and Sylvie was susceptible to his manipulation and charm. She should’ve called the police on him. It’s annoying how Sylvie wanted him to, I guess, spend the rest of his life running?
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The real joke (other than the judge stating his sentence in years instead of months despite it being a federal crime) was how he was only sentenced to two years and got out in a year or less because of him playing nice with others and teaching prisoners how to read or something.
May we all be given the mercy of a white-collar crime committing, mediocre, wealthy man with no remorse in everything that we do.
But every time you thought Mark had reached the bottom of suckiness, he found a trap door and hurled himself through it headfirst.
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He had no reason to make promises he never intended to keep to Eve. He knew she was a bit fragile, and she had issues with her eating disorder. He didn’t communicate with her any further, so he had no idea she ended up in the hospital and didn’t think twice about it after the fact.
Eve’s health crisis was scary. As a result of her eating disorder, her organs were more likely to fail in some capacity, so when the doctor said she had gone into cardiac arrest and later on said she was in renal failure, it wasn’t a surprise.
It’s a good thing she went to her “sister” while in New York. She would’ve died without Grace there to help her or Maggie there to support her. The family shots at the hospital were moving because of how it showed these two women and their children made the best out of a crappy situation and had become each other’s family.
Maggie: Sylvie, this is the beach all over again with Eve drowning, but this time, there is no Mark to save her. There is just you.
I only wish we saw more of how the teens came around to the idea and accepted all of this.
The women and families are more powerful when they’re together, and it showed. Maggie educated herself on accounting in her spare time (a great feat for someone who was frustratingly aloof to finances while married to Mark) and figured out Mark hid three million bucks.
I love that it was never a question of whether the money would be all hers if she found it. Even from the early days in their relationship, she was willing to share things with Sylvie; she was fair.
The women finding the money in the ugly painting was a great scene, but nothing was funnier than Mark trying to suss out the situation when he arrived at the cabin in a pretty nice car.
He left Maggie with nothing, and the bank took their house. How the hell was he surprised she and Buck moved into the cabin? Where else were they going to go?
If he was concerned about his families, he could’ve told them about the money. He never intended to share it with them, which is why he didn’t say anything until they admitted they found it, and it’s why he planned to run off with it while they were asleep.
His stepdaughter he claims to love could die without treatment, and he doesn’t give a single damn. Ha! Mark probably started a new family somewhere else while he was away.
The ladies getting over on him and reigning supreme is the only acceptable ending for this movie, and the two women growing into a family and vacationing together was adorable.
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Diner Dude added into the mix was so unnecessary though. The only man who should’ve been relevant in this entire film was Buck, and the poor kid barely had lines and screentime.
I’m not saying I would’ve preferred if Maggie and Sylvie fell in love instead, I’m typing it. Imagine how awesome it would’ve been; imagine!
While the random love story was unnecessary, Jane Green knows how to deliver the family feels, and I love her for it.
Over to you Lifetime Movie Fanatics! Would you love to see more adaptations of Jane Green novels? Do you have secret families out there? Did you ‘ship Maggie and Sylvie?
Pssst! It’s OK to admit you’re watching these movies too, you know. Don’t be afraid to join me in the comments!