"The Pastor's Wife" (8 tonight, Lifetime) is a good old-fashioned Lifetime movie -- a woman in peril, a crime, tears, a trial. The good stuff!
And it's based on a true story too. In 2006, in small-town Tennessee, timid Mary Winkler killed her husband, a popular local minister, with a shotgun. It seemed impossible; the couple, who had three children, seemed the perfect happy family. But later, during the trial, Mary says Matthew was an abusive tyrant.
The structure of the story helps make it interesting; it starts with the body and has town residents speak to the camera, documentary style. We see one version of the family's life that shows a strict, but loving Matthew and a couple with severe financial problems. Later, those same scenes are revisited, adding Mary's revelation; that her husband smacked her around and forced her to dress up like a hooker for freaky sex.
Rose McGowen plays Mary; although in other roles, she has seemed like someone who would have no problem killing her husband, here, she plays self-effacing and meek wonderfully. She's squarely at the center of the movie; no one else makes much of an impression.
If you've followed this case, (Mary had her first TV interview on "Oprah" and Nancy Grace was so all over the case, her clips are featured in the movie), you'll notice some liberties taken. One interesting element is the support Mary gets from the women in her town. It's as if the movie is suggesting that women find it perfectly understandable that one day you might want to blow your husband away.
You might enjoy the soundtrack of "The Pastor's Wife" too. There's a mix of blues, gospel, Latin, country. I guess that makes sense since the Winkler case was immortalized in song by the Drive-By Truckers.
The movie ends on an eerie note that I suspect the still-living Mary Winkler won't like. But from a viewer's perspective, it makes "The Pastor's Wife" even more fun to contemplate.