Lifetime TV Movie review: Bringing Ashley Home

“I don’t think a person with drug problems makes rational decisions especially when they are bipolar.”
–Libba Phillips

Based on true events, Bringing Ashley Home follows Libba Phillips [A.J. Cook] as she journeys across the country to find her troubled sister Ashley [Jennifer Morrison]. While living in Atlanta, Ashley’s arrested for drug possession and placed into a rehabilitation facility. Due to insurance issues, the rehab releases Ashley and she disappears.

The sisters grew up in Portland, Ore. and older-sister Libba has been successful and happy, while Ashley found herself mostly relegated to Libba’s penumbra. Though close, Ashley’s highs and lows prove frustrating to her sister and her mother [Patricia Richardson]. As long as both sisters remember, this is just Ashley. She’s happy and then she’s sad. She does drugs. She’s not the responsible sister. Ashley moves to California to live with Libba and after a frustrating several months where she parties for days and then stays in bed for days, she finally gets a job as a stripper.

Ashley on her depression: “It’s like I’m in a tunnel with dead bodies and rotting animals. What’s wrong with me?”

Libba to Ashley on a manic phase: “That must’ve been some miracle shower. An hour ago you couldn’t function and now the sky’s the limit.”

When she doesn’t hear from Ashley, who’s always stayed in touch, Libba organizes an intensive search that takes her to Atlanta, throughout California and back and forth to Portland numerous times. Angry with the facility’s treatment of her sister and also with a resistant police force, Libba creates a nonprofit organization, Outpost for Hope, dedicated to the disenfranchised or “kids off the grid.”

While quite moving and including solid acting from Cook [Criminal Minds] and a nearly unrecognizable Morrison [House], Bringing Ashley Home would have been better if it focused on Ashley’s bipolar disease a bit more.

Bringing Ashley Home premieres on Lifetime Movie Network, Sunday, March 20 at 8pm ET/5pm PT

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