|Ryder and Julina in promo shot for film|
Peasant shirts and prairie skirts. Floral-pattern Laura Ashley dresses. Blazers with Oxford shirts. Let's face it, a polygamist community is a more stylish version of the Amish. You'll see these things in the made-for-TV movie Escape from Polygamy BUT you'll also see sexy scenes that have no actual sex in them. You'll see exhilarating pop culture references and, you'll see a third act for the ages.
Polygamy is the story of two teens who fall in love and fight to escape a polygamist community ruled by an abusive leader.
Jack Falahee. He with eyes like Jeremy Irons and a crooked smile that hints at darkness. He plays Ryder, the teenage son of a prophet in a polygamist community. He dresses in shirts unbuttoned to reveal his chest and kicks around in chukka boots. This is a 2013 movie, but I saw it after seeing his steamy turn in the new Shonda Rhimes hit "How to Get Away with Murder"; so watching him play the virginal Ryder feels like he's trying hard to repress the sex in his acting. On "Murder," Falahee speeds up heart beats as Connor Walsh, a gay and complex law student who's fully aware of his prettiness, letting his sex appeal vroom-vroom like a Ferrari.
In peasant shirts and prairie skirts, comes Julina, a teenager who moves into the polygamist community with her mother. Yes, the same community where Ryder lives. Haley Lu Richardson plays Julina with a self-possession that quickly becomes the movie's independent core. She struts like the cool girl that she is, pairing prairie skirts with Chuck Taylor's. Her face gives me young Lauren Conrad minus the mean girl snake eyes. As pretty as she is, and as sassy as she is, Haley doesn't bring sex to her role. Ryder is very much the high school senior that dad doesn't want your freshman ass to date, but he's more stylish than jock-ish, with that trim and delicate body of his. There's a rebelliousness in his acting. At the end of the day, Ryder and Haley give me best friends, not Romeo & Juliet.
The third act of Escape from Polygamy is the drop-a-house-on-you moment where a witch is killed by a house and a teenager arrives in a foreign land. In short, it's the Wizard of Oz moment of the movie, and Ryder plays Dorothy. Damon Hill's entertaining script never stalls, but it's in the third act that things explode with color. I won't say where Ryder goes to, but it feels like independence. A Katy Perry impersonator tries to dazzle Ryder with her bra made of whipped cream cans. In one shot, pink light illuminates Ryder's face.
A young, pale and skinny man named Micah (Jake Weary), with a bouncy blond pompador, struts into the movie; Jake Weary manages to bring effortless sex to the role, but it's flashier than what Falahee gives to Ryder. He's wired and his eyes are crazy. It's also in those crazy eyes that you get to see that he's lost. Unexpectedly, he helps the film lead to a waterworks moment that will surprise you, but you didn't think you were that invested in the movie. You will get lost, and you'll feel like you had to escape from polygamy too.