Lyndsy Fonseca shines in Lifetime’s ‘You Can’t Take My Daughter', a rape survivor and mother's hunt for justice
Network's latest primetime film based on true events explores the background of the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act and comments on the urgency of such federal laws to be imposed all over the country
The review contains spoilers and we recommend that you revisit this only after you have caught up on the movie.
As you tune into ‘You Can’t Take My Daughter’, it starts to feel like most drama thrillers which is the channel’s signature. But as the plot moves forward, you realize that this is perhaps way more than what it seems. The story seems more progressive than the network’s purview, the movie is an eye-opener of sorts.
It starts with Amy Thompson (Lyndsy Fonseca), attending a party to celebrate her law school graduation, where she briefly gets introduced to Demetri, our antagonist.
The premise looks simple at first; boy meets girl, asks her out, the girl refuses, boy gets miffed, and decides to get back to the girl. But what happens next is what makes this film worthy of sitting through for 90 minutes. Unable to handle rejection, Demetri breaks into Amy’s house and rapes her.
From this point onward, you start to realize how the law is really not on the victim’s side. The local PD’s inability to file a complaint on Amy’s testimony leads her to take matters in her own hands. She seeks the best lawyer and yet they cannot break into what would soon prove to be the most disappointing loopholes of the law. While Amy is fighting for her rights and to bring her criminal to justice, she gets pregnant. Despite having the right to choose, she decides to go ahead and raise the child. But she keeps getting hounded by Demetri. Afraid and helpless, she moves from North Carolina to Georgia. Years pass and Amy’s daughter, Maddy is seven. All goes well, until Demetri files for custody and visitation rights for his supposed daughter.
This is where the plot starts to thicken and presents the true reality of rape laws in the country. Most of you might not be aware, that in states like Georgia (among others) even a rapist is entitled to shared custody of the child born out of rape and can even be a decision-maker in the child’s life. As shocking as it may sound, it was not until 2015, that the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act became a federal law that prevented joint custody of children born out of rape.
Amy refuses to give in to such a handicap and decides to stand up and fight until she gets justice for herself. Her journey from a helpless victim to a headstrong lawyer and protective mother is not only delightful to watch but is also deeply inspirational.
If you are wondering about the takeaway from this film, then it is the fact that rape laws in the US are still not as stringent as they should be. But, in the midst of all this, Amy Thompson's story gives us hope and can inspire millions of other women grappling with similar situations. Not everyone could probably fight it out like her, but they can always take away a lesson or two. The movie could be inspirational for aspiring lawyers and lawmakers who want to bring about a change in the current judiciary system and make it more favorable for those who have to suffer the injustices born of a broken system. However, only 18 states in the country follow the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act 2015, which follows, while the rest of the nation is still struggling through the conventional system.
All said and done, ‘You Can’t Take My Daughter’ would not be what it is without the characters playing their part successfully. Talking about the actor behind the character, we cannot help lauding Lyndsy Fonseca. After seeing her in action-packed roles in ‘Kick-Ass’ movie franchise, or the hit television thriller series, ‘Nikita’, it was refreshing to see the actor in a role away from her specialty. Fonseca also qualifies as a single driving force of the film, seen well marinated in her gripping performance of the toughened victim and a mother.
In the same breath, we must also spend a minute to appreciate Hunter Burke, who plays the antagonist in the film. A popular face of network television, Burke is known for being a part of many drama-thriller-action series. The role of a psychopath like Demetri stood out among many of his recent works. Many can play a negative role, but holding onto the sociopathic persona with a smooth and charming façade might just be the hard bit. We see this in Burke's brilliant portrayal all throughout the journey of the character.
Long story short, ‘You Can’t Take My Daughter’ is impactful and bold, and yet makes you emotional at a certain point. But in the end, it drives a strong message, making it a great experience.