Lifetime TV movie review: ZOE GONE

It’s going to be pouring rain [at least in Boston] Saturday night. The theatrical film selection’s not that fantastic at the moment. So why not get all into this Lifetime movie which contains a few key Lifetime movie elements: a teen mom; a deadbeat teen dad (there rarely are any other kinds. I’ve watched Teen Mom); a baby napping; and a single mom cop tasked with the case. Cue the heart-strings pulling.

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After 16-year-old Jennifer [Sammi Hanratty] resentfully gives birth to baby Zoe she figures her life’s over. Sure life as she knew it. Her mom [Alexandra Holden] gave birth to her at 16 too and seems super surprised that Jennifer made the same “mistake” that she did. “I’m a mistake?” Jennifer asks her mom. The only mistake I see is that her mom didn’t teach her daughter about birth control. Condoms, young women, condoms, condoms, condoms! She doesn’t feel anything maternally for this little being. When she’s walking Zoe one day, she runs into a friend from high school. She tells her: “I hate my life. I hate being a mom.” Her friend replies: “Jen you made a choice.” Yes, to have sex without birth control or to have an abortion. Aw, teens these days.

The school pal helpfully tells her that Zoe’s baby daddy’s been seen hanging with another girl. Of course Zoe thinks that she and the guy [Michael Grant] and Zoe will be one happy family. Because that’s how it works, right? She also tells Zoe that someone’s having a party and she should “take a night off” and show up. Zoe arrives home pretty hurt. Later on she leaves Zoe alone and goes out to the party. Arriving home rather drunk hours later to a pissed off mom, Jennifer puts Zoe in her crib saying: “Thanks for ruining my life.” Icy.

A few days later, she meets up with the boyfriend for some child support money and Zoe’s kidnapped. This scene seemed SO sketchy to me and it’s quickly clear why. I don’t expect a 16-year-old to be that cognizant of things but still. And when the boyfriend goes back to get flowers for Jennifer, something doesn’t jibe. Suddenly Zoe’s hurting deep down and finds herself involved in the search for her missing daughter in ways she never thought she would be. She also bonds with Detective Patricia Henderson [Jean Louisa Kelly], a single mother [by choice]. When Jennifer gets her own leads on Zoe’s kidnapper she works with Det. Henderson but also puts her own life in danger to save baby Zoe. When Jennifer does get Zoe back, she makes the mature and difficult decision to give her daughter up for adoption.

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Hanratty does quite an exceptional job as the teen mom Jennifer. She realistically exhibits a wide breadth of emotions. You dislike her and then root for her as you should. If you can get through some banal moments, Zoe Gone is a rather exhilarating few hours of entertainment.

Quixotically this is yet another Lifetime movie written AND directed by men on a station devoted to WOMEN. Just don’t get it. There need to be more films and television programs on Lifetime written and directed by WOMEN.

Zoe Gone airs Saturday, March 29 at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

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