With all the cable networks out there trying to gain supremacy over everything, few have made bigger leaps and bounds in recent months than Lifetime, which has slowly shed itself of the “violence against women” skin that it wore for so many years. Their most recently announced project is the Maria Bello-starring TV movie Big Driver, based on the novella from bestselling author Stephen King, making it the first deal between the writer and the network.
Allow me to put my foot in my mouth for a second to say that Big Driver is indeed a movie that centers on a woman who falls victim to a slurry of violence and abuse, but we all know King stories are never just about one thing. This is about vengeance and justice as much as anything else. At least it seemed that way in the story; I can’t speak for Lifetime’s adaptation.
Taken from King's surprisingly grim 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars, Big Driver centers on Tess Thorne (Bello), a highly popular thriller writer who has a long drive ahead of her following a book signing. After a flat tire initially delays her trip home, another driver (Will Harris) stops by and offers to help her out. It doesn’t take long for his nice guy façade to fade, and he rapes and beats Tess, leaving her for dead within a pit of other victims. Only she isn’t dead, and she isn’t going to take this attack lightly.
Instead of reporting the crime to the police, for fear of having her public reputation put into the limelight, Tess takes matters into her own hands and tracks her assailant down. I don’t think I have to tell you that she isn’t just calling on him for tea and crumpets. She wants revenge, and she just has to make sure she doesn’t go completely insane before she finds him. Somehow, Olympia Dukakis and Joan “I Love Rock & Roll” Jett also fit into this story somewhere.
According to TV Line, Big Driver was adapted for the small screen by TV veteran Richard Christian Matheson, who wrote the “Battleground” segment of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King as well as some Masters of Horror episodes. Behind the camera is Mikael Salomon, who also worked on Nightmares & Dreamscapes, as well as directing the 2004 version of ’Salem’s Lot and the upcoming non-King-related war miniseries To Appomattox.
Lifetime movies used to be a refuge for actresses whose careers had dried up, but the former Touch star Bello is coasting along as strongly as ever, having starred in last year's acclaimed thriller Prisoners and the non-acclaimed Grown Ups 2. This year, she’s got Paul Haggis’ story-weaving Third Person, Niki Caro’s track drama McFarland and Will Canon’s paranormal thriller Demonic.
Stay tuned for more info on when we can expect Big Driver to come barreling into our living rooms.