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Cuba Gooding Jr. and interesting story make "Firelight" a slightly different Hallmark tale.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and DeWanda Wise are two of the talented actors who make 'Firelight' worth watching.
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By Rob Hedelt
THERE are moments
But that quibble and the irrepressible nature of a few of the characters are swept aside by an emotional story rooted in the possibility of redemption.
The young women seeking it are inmates in a female correctional center. Characters include Caroline (Q'orianka Kilcher, who played Pocahontas in Terrence Malick's "The New World").
We meet the troubled Caroline at the film's start when she and a boyfriend are caught during a burglary.
Soon enough, the mistreated and dependent young woman finds herself in a facility that's split down the middle. On one side are rougher inmates who are taken advantage of by an inmate who plays one against the other. On the other side are inmates who have qualified for a special prison firefighting team that offers the opportunity to get out from behind bars to battle blazes and help with other projects.
Yes, that struggle is a little too black-and-white--not in the races of the inmates, but in the good-versus-evil feel that plays out between the two groups.
Still, the struggle all of the young women have in coming to grips with their crimes and what they need to do to reclaim their lives is a strong format to wrap a drama around.
It helps to have TV and film veteran Cuba Gooding Jr. playing a counselor who has dedicated his life to helping his young charges at the facility.
Gooding is spot-on as the father deeply troubled by the fact that he can't reach all the troubled, broken young women in his charge.
When Caroline arrives, he sees in her a challenge that just may be winnable--a young woman who has never been supported by family but has a desire to improve her life.
For a while, Caroline clings to the thought of eventually getting back to the boyfriend who's been the only one to show her what she took for love and caring. Soon enough, her interaction with the better souls in the lockup pushes her toward a future that she can make for herself.
'FIRELIGHT' When: Sunday night at 9 Where: ABC