Synopsis by Mark Deming
This Southern Gothic drama of a deeply troubled family was written by leading man David Steen, who adapted the screenplay from his own play. Ma Samuals (Sharon Farrell) lives in a poor section of rural North Carolina during the 1970s. Her slightly retarded son Charlie (Steen) was the product of an incestuous relationship with her uncle, a preacher who seduced her when she was only 12; despite this experience, Ma remains a devout Fundamentalist Christian. Ma also lives with her adopted daughter, Messy (Gigi Rice), though it's obvious that Charlie is the favored child, and Messy is often the target for Ma's abuse. When Cousin Anna (Sarah Trigger) is orphaned, she comes to stay with the Samuals family, which upsets the household's already shaky emotional balance. Ma disapproves of Messy's new friendship with Anna, believing she's a poor influence on her daughter, and when Anna begins spending time with Charlie, her obsessive love for her son (which has already spilled over into incest) threatens to push her over the brink. A Gift from Heaven marked the feature debut for both screenwriter Steen and director Jack Lucarelli.
abuse, sexual, adoption, dysfunctional, escape, evangelism, handicap, incest, jealousy, mental-retardation, orphan, over-protective, sexual-abuse, single-parent, uncle