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Television Reviews : Actors Rise Above Teen Bathos in ‘Desperate’

Tragedy erupts when three small-town Southern adolescents are “Desperate for Love,” tonight’s CBS movie at 9 p.m. on channels 2 and 8.

Alex (Brian Bloom), the handsome, college-bound son of a good family, is involved with Lily (Tammy Lauren), a sexy, troubled teen from the wrong side of the tracks. Alex’s best friend Cliff (Christian Slater), tormented and insecure, is torn between his own love for Lily and his loyalty to Alex.

When Alex’s parents, wanting to ensure a good future for him, forbid their son to see Lily, she uses Cliff for comfort. Euphoric, then disturbed, his feelings become more and more complicated as he realizes that Lily still loves Alex. When Alex’s final betrayal of Lily leads to his violent death, Cliff is accused of murder.

Judith Paige Mitchell’s script, directed by Michael Tuchner, covers ground familiar to any soap opera fan, but all the bathos is surprisingly bearable, due to strong performances from the three young leads. Slater is particularly touching as a lonely boy whose mother’s grief and shame over the desertion of her husband has scarred him deeply. As the mother, Veronica Cartwright is another moving presence.

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Bloom has an emotional depth that proves he’s more than dramatic, dark good looks, and Lauren uses her puffy-lipped sensuality as an effective mask for the disturbed child underneath.


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