lifetime logoDid you know that Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal’s father, Stephen, has directed a daunting mountain of TV movies? It’s true. One of them is The Patron Saint of Liars, based on the novel by Ann Patchett. Unfortunately, Steven isn’t quite as talented as his kids and the movie in question is inversely as awesome as its totally awesome title.

Rose is a woman who can’t help but run away from the people who love her most – and when she finds out she’s pregnant she abandons her loving husband to move across the country to a Catholic shelter for unwed mothers. The only thing she truly loves is driving. At the Catholic home she marries the handyman, Son, has her baby, and runs away from them, too, after 15 years (or approximately 45 minutes of meandering and episodic plot and about 30 Target and Nair commercials).

In the end, after a lot of driving, which she loves and which everyone always mentions, for some completely unknown reason that has nothing to do with the story, she comes to her senses and returns to her family (the second family, that is. Her first family is left forgotten and abandoned). Hugs all around.

What interested me most about this movie was how perfectly the handyman, Son, is as a romantic interest in this movie and for the entire Lifetime Movie Network demographic (the LMN demographic, in case you didn’t know, consists of women, 25-55 who are wearing sweats, thinking about folding clothes, and eating low-fat yogurt as I write this (I am one of the masses!)).

He’s not adventurous or dashing or ambitious. He’s simple. He just wants to love and be loved. Best of all, he quickly and accurately fixes things around the house, from carpentry to wiring to gutter cleaning. He won’t say anything about your sweatpants. I mean, his name is SON – what more could a woman want? I’m sure LMN women everywhere swooned – oh, to have a man who complains when you aren’t around and who would fix that light fixture in the kitchen! Oh, to have a man totally understand that you love to drive and that this is the only defining characteristic of your personality!

The other thing that really caught my attention in this movie was how bad God seems to be at special effects. He performs two miracles during the movie – one near the beginning and one near the end – and he’s not winning any Emmys for His work. He’s not even getting nominated. It looked like all He did, really, was shake the camera so that it looked like the ground was rumbling and rent a couple of smoke machines.

In the end, though, The Patron Saint of Liars is one of the more directionless, wandering TV movies that I’ve seen yet. The plot isn’t so much a plot as a string of things that happen. Maybe Ann Patchett or Steven Gyllenhaal misunderstood the meaning of “character-driven” and took it literally?

I’d be curious if the book was any better than the movie. In any case, I bet you’d have to sit through fewer Nair commercials.