3 StarsSarah Pender (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) appears to be a sweet and innocent young woman, but appearances can be deceiving. Sarah always gets her way, using her feminine wiles to get others to do her bidding. She Made Them Do It follows Sarah’s time spent in prison after being sentenced for her involvement in a murder her boyfriend committed. As she continues her pleas of innocence Sarah rises to the top of the prison garnering the hearts of her fellow inmates and one of the guards. She’s also become the prison’s main drug dealer and has no issue playing others into her escape plans. Once she cuts out a federal marshal (Steve Becic) is fast on her heels. Will Sarah be able to use her gift of seduction to get everything she wants out of life, or will it backfire on her?
This is Lifetime TV movie based on a true story, making it all the more interesting. The question of Sarah’s innocence is dangled in front of the audience like a carrot in front of a donkey. The film never truly answers the question, only hints at it leaving the audience to make up their own minds. Regardless it’s clear that Sarah Pender was a person capable of surviving in any situation. The controversy surrounding the case is presented here, but this isn’t that story – there’s no Sarah Pender is innocent sentimentality to be found. Instead the picture smartly decides to leave all that up to the viewers and focus on the events.
Jenna Dewan-Tatum is perfectly cast as Pender. She can turn on and off the charm at will and has that look of innocence that could bend anyone’s will her way. Dewan-Tatum’s acting chops are at full charge as she plays into the ‘is she guilty or innocent?’ plot points. We aren’t sure if she’s a psychopath mimicking necessary emotions to get her way, or if she might be actually feeling them. It’s a great performance and necessary for a film building a story around the focal point of a single person.
To me this falls into the “institutionalised” subcategory of drama and thriller such as Girl, Interrupted or Double Jeopardy. Worth checking out next time it airs.
Director: Grant Harvey
Stars: Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Steve Bacic