This TV movie chronicles the murder of Dr. Herman “Hy” Tarnower (Ben Kingsley, GANDHI), author of the bestselling Scarsdale Diet book. In the 1980s, the case was a tabloid sensation as the story came out that Tarnower’s spurned lover Jean Harris (Annette Bening, AMERICAN BEAUTY) shot him several times in a failed attempted to commit suicide. At least that was Jean’s version of the story.
The film begins with shooting from Jean’s point of view. We often jump between the murder, the trial and Jean and Herman’s relationship. Director/writer Phyllis Nagy also injects interviews with friends and family of Jean and Herman. We see from the start that Tarnower is a controlling man, who is both proud and self-conscience of his wealth and Jewish heritage. Hy and Jean’s first sex scene is a highlight. However, he can be charming and we understand why Jean agrees to marry him. But it doesn’t take long before we can see that Tarnower is getting cold feet. However, at this point, Jean is attached and Hy is afraid to commit, but also afraid to let Jean go. Over the years, Jean desperately clings to Hy, trying to win his affection even though she knows he is having an affair with his nurse, Lynne Tryforos (Chloe Sevigny, SHATTERED GLASS).