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V.C. Andrews’ ALL THAT GLITTERS – Lifetime Movie Review

March 30, 2021 in Review - No Comments

I wasted time watching and reviewing both Lifetime adaptations of Ruby and Pearl in the Mist. Now I’m here to review Lifetime’s adaptation of All That Glitters, the third book in V.C. Andrews’ Landry series. After the first two instalments, I came to appreciate both lead actresses for their roles. I thought they managed to do a lot with a little. While I liked Beau in Ruby, he ended up playing the role of a good lay in Pearl in the Mist. But now Ruby’s looking after Beau’s baby on the swamp, and what is a single mom to do now? Let’s find out in my review of Lifetime’s All That Glitters!

Some Notes Going In

For the life of me, I don’t remember much about my experience reading All That Glitters. I feel like I remember reading all of it but I have no knowledge of the Giselle plot and only memories of the scene where Ruby has sex with (HER BROTHER!) Paul, and she refers to the moment feeling like a bunch of horses running and thumping, which I thought was actually pretty decent writing, honestly?

Obviously, I was looking forward to seeing that moment on screen, hoping that it would it be messed up and weird, much like that very uncomfortable incest scene from Boardwalk Empire. Not that I’m like down with incest or anything. I just appreciate a good messed-up sex scene, okay?

A Return to the Bayou

More stock footage bayou scenes and the bayou theme music take us back to Ruby’s new life as a single mom. Except, she’s not so single because Paul shows her his new fancy property called Cypress Woods (which will never not make me think of Cypress Hill). The property looks nothing like a fancy southern property and doesn’t look like the damn bayou at all. I mentioned in my Ruby review that the entire series was filmed in Victoria, which is great because Yay, Canada! and all, but also awful because all the bayou magic of the book is ruined in this dumb series for me.

JUST GIVE ME MY SOUTHERN ARCHITECTURE, LIFETIME! THAT’S ALL I ASKED FOR!

Paul shows Ruby the house, which again, isn’t very southern-looking, and then takes her to the dining room table here he’s spelt MARRY ME, RUBY with rose petals. Ruby, of course, reminds him of the truth that they’re half-siblings, but the old teenage me that really liked the Ruby/Paul relationship still shipped the pair. Doesn’t help that the actor who plays Paul also does a pretty decent job of making him this devoted man who just wants to protect her. He even shows her their separate bedrooms so they don’t have to like, you know, bone and sin and make matters worse for themselves.

All they have to do is pretend to be man and wife. Ruby gets a nice house and a safe home for herself and Pearl. Inside, I was like, “Do it, Ruby. Don’t be dumb.”

Ruby also looks older, and I gotta applaud Lifetime on giving her just a bit of a sophisticated makeup look and some more sophisticated 50s-looking dresses to wear. She really does look a month older than she was in Pearl in the Mist! Like, it’s hard not to laugh at how they try to make everyone look more adult even though little time has passed.

That Shack Life

Instead, Ruby goes back to her Grandmere’s shack. She puts Pearl down in the tiniest basket in the universe on the dang dining room table and then Buster (the dude her Grandpere tried to sell her to) busts right on in and claims that he spend a $1000 bucks on her and still hasn’t got what he paid for. But like, didn’t Ruby leave that money behind? Surely Buster must have gotten that back after he came to and realized that Ruby was gone?

Needless to say, things get rapey, but Lifetime made Ruby smart and she takes her pot of gumbo and throws it into Buster’s face so she can grab the baby and escape. Buster grabs Ruby’s leg and she falls to the ground still holding the baby, but still manages to escape. It’s a pretty tense scene, but it takes Ruby all the way back to Cypress Woods.

In the morning, Paul finds her and Pearl sleeping on the bench in front of the property, which makes me wonder why she didn’t just go up to the door and knock? Like, they’re supposed to be in love with each other. Why the hell is she too afraid to go in? Did Lifetime really do this just so we could have the whole “handsome hero picks her up fireman-style” hero scene? Because that’s basically what it feels like here.

#SortaMarriedLife

Ruby decides to accept Paul’s offer. The two marry and we get acquainted with Paul’s family. His sister, Jean, is lovely. His mother, Gladys, is the new bitch who gets to replace the now-dead Daphne (who dies later on in an off-screen horse accident). Lastly, his father, Octavious is just a rapist who doesn’t realize that he’s a rapist. You see, Ruby’s mother Gabrielle was just sO tAnTaLiZiNg that Octavious (a grown-ass man) just couldn’t help himself from boning a literal teenager.

“You really are just the spitting images of your mother,” he says to Ruby. “And she was an enchantress, you know!”

Paul does his best charm, telling Ruby that she’s really made their house a home, seducing an almost-kiss from Ruby. This happens a few times over the course of the movie, which really does kind of give one feels for a bit of incest. Ruby, at least, in the moment, manages to maintain reality, at least, until Giselle shows up.

A Wannabe Blair Waldorf

Giselle makes her return by showing up at Cypress Woods without warning. She threatens to expose the truth of Ruby’s marriage for… reasons? Her threat doesn’t really go anywhere other than to remind Ruby that she’s still her bitchy older sister.

Then, when Beau comes back from France (having broken off his engagement with whatever Parisian debutante) and he decides to marry Giselle. Why? Because she uh, looks like Ruby and she’s the closest Beau can ever get to being with Ruby. Giselle reminds Ruby that if she’d just waited a bit longer that she’d be able to hook up with the real father of her child instead of her sad bro-marriage situation.

“I’ve got a feeling you’ll be envious of my life soon,” she tells Ruby.

Just wait. Oh, just wait.

It’s Bermuda Love Triangle Time!

Ruby loses her cool over Giselle and Paul manages to calm her down and kiss her silly. Ruby gushes and says she wishes they could just be “other people”, so later in the night Paul comes in dressed as a soldier, calling himself “Colonel William Tate”. He asks Ruby out to dinner and provides her with a gown to wear. It’s kind of sweet? But not really what I was hoping for, really. After dinner, we cut to Ruby in a corset and yet another pair of ruffle panties. Paul just busts into the room and the two make out, finally consummating their sibling-marriage off-screen.

Which, for me, is a major letdown.

I wanted to see some torment and stuff, y’know? Some real dark stuff? Instead, we get the piano music and Ruby facing regret the next morning. She confronts Paul about it, saying they can’t do it again. But then Paul LITERALLY FUCKING GASLIGHTS her by saying that she must have just had a really great dream.

At this point, I was totes done with Paul. Like, Ruby obviously doesn’t buy into the lie, but just the fact that he’d even just brush aside her concern and pretend like they didn’t just commit incest is even grosser than the incest to me. If the story’s plot didn’t progress and they continued on, would he put on the soldier costume again? Would he force Ruby to continue playing fantasy just for his own benefit?

Ruby paints a pretty cringe painting of her and “Colonel William Tate” in the woods, but then Giselle calls with news of Daphne’s death. At the funeral, the dude Ruby was with complains about how destitute he is now because Daphne didn’t put him in the will. Ruby doesn’t really give much of a shit about this, though, because she finally gets to see Beau again!

Can I just add here that Ty Wood has a total cute babyface but is also weirdly sexy and charming at the same time? The duality of this man confuses me.

And it’s a bit touching, but only because the actors do a decent job of playing long-lost lovers. (Though we really didn’t need that garbage flashback in Ruby’s old art room with the totes see-through lace curtains, Lifetime. Trust the actors!) We also get a scene of Beau meeting Pearl for the first time. And maybe it’s just the hormonal mom in me (because I’m totes on my period right now), but that was some touching shit, man.

“Is she mine?” Beau asks, referring to Pearl. It’s literally the most gutting part of the movie to me. (Again, because of my mom hormones. Nothing sexier than a dad who wants to be a good dad, yo.) The whole explanation about their parting was kind of silly, but Beau eventually explains himself and tells Ruby that he’s leased a nice fuck-pad in New Orleans that Giselle doesn’t know about. He tells Ruby to meet him there.

Bone Time

Ruby tells Paul that she’s going to New Orleans to see some art dealers, when she’s really going to visit Beau. She lets her hair down and it looks bloody awful, sis. Like really bad. She’s got sex hair before she even gets the sexy time.

AN ABSOLUTE HOT MESS.

We get our not-sexy dose of making out with underwear on, followed by that whole post-coital conversation with sheets strategically covering all the lewd stuff. Ruby claims she hates lying to Paul, but that they also made an agreement that they could bone other people if they wanted to, to which I’m like, SERIOUSLY RUBY?! Obviously Paul is a one-woman man.

Ruby then explains the whole brother aspect of her relationship with Paul, and Beau sees this as an opportunity to get Ruby back. Which it kind of is? But the way they go about fixing the problem is so ridiculous and stupid. Like all Ruby has to do is tell Paul the truth, which she plans on doing, that is, until she comes home to find Paul drunk. He gets a bit scary and then gets upset about it.

The Switch

Later, after Ruby decides that it’s best to stay with Paul because Giselle might spill the truth about them being siblings or something? Giselle has no real sway in Houma. How is she even a real threat?

Beau then calls with a notice that fate is trying to help them! Turns out he and Giselle went to some chateau where Giselle got stung by a mosquito and is now in a coma with a rare form of encephalitis. He says that Ruby can switch places with Giselle. Ruby says that this is crazy, but then she just goes along with it anyway, which enraged me because the obvious legal issues surrounding this are crazy, but this is also a V.C. Andrews story and this is kind of the whole point?

So I don’t reeeeeallly know what I was so mad about.

Paul strangely gives this plan the go-ahead, taking the vegetable Giselle at Cypress Woods. It made me feel kind of sorry for him all over again. Because he’s literally getting shafted, forced to take care of Giselle and getting nothing in return, I guess, except for the knowledge that Ruby’s apparently happy now?

Except she’s not. Not entirely. Ruby goes back to New Orleans to live with Beau in her father’s mansion, but she has to pretend to be Giselle. Which she does a great job at! I’m not even kidding. Lifetime does the whole Giselle makeup look on the Ruby actress, and the Ruby actress does her best Giselle impression and it actually was really difficult to tell if they were just using the Giselle actress.

Blair Waldorf 3.0

It doesn’t many social events for Ruby to get a feel for her sister’s ways. As Giselle rots away in the bayou, Ruby frolics at all the high society parties and eventually crashes into her old friend Abby. You know, her bi-racial roomie from the boarding school? I’ve no idea why she’s at this party. In fact, we don’t even get to catch up on any of what she’s been up to all this time, because she confronts Ruby (thinking she’s actually Giselle). But THEN she finally catches Ruby apologize for something and she realizes the truth.

The two rekindle their friendship and Ruby spills the truth that she’s actually posing as her sister. To be honest, it shocks me a bit that Abby is cool with this. Abby always seemed like a pretty moral person, but because it’s Ruby she somehow gets a pass for doing something really shitty?

Ruby eventually plays the Giselle role so well that she starts to like it. Honestly, it would have been nice to have seen a bit more of the actress who plays Ruby struggle with this aspect, because she plays it well. But this is Lifetime, where plot matters more than anything, so a true character drama aficinado like me just has to make do with the couple of occasions where Ruby blurts out that she understands what power is as a wealthy woman.

I especially liked the part when, after Giselle’s illness worsens and Ruby goes to visit and give her sister all her good luck charms, Ruby finally understands Giselle. “The world was a great playground to you,” she says, “and anyone that threatened it was to be destroyed.”

“Treating people as you do, it makes me feel in charge. And I’m scared because I’m getting really good at it. I’m starting to like it.”

Ruby Dumas

Ruby paints her angst away, and then Bruce (the dude Daphne was banging) comes back into the picture begging for money again. He takes notice of the paintings and clues in on the fact that the person he believes is Giselle IS actually Ruby. He claims to spill the beans but then Ruby just chases him out, claiming RAPE, even though there was no rape. Like what is the point of this? Is it so show Ruby’s viciousness? Or to show that Ruby can now defend herself? I know it’s the former but I kind of feel like it’s the latter?

Abby totes forgives it all, and even though Ruby is doing a truly awful thing.

The Death of Blair Waldorf 2.0

Paul’s sister calls to tell Giselle about Ruby’s death, but to Ruby it’s about Giselle’s death. But to Ruby it’s more about Ruby’s death. This bums out because after all the effort Lifetime went to try to pretend that Ruby and Giselle had some kind of connection, it’s shitty that once Giselle dies that Ruby makes the situation all about herself.

I’M GOING TO MY OWN FUNERAL! she sobs before the scene cuts straight to Paul mourning the death of Ruby, because at this point he believes that Giselle is actually Ruby.

Ruby apologizes to her sister because she “didn’t realize that it was going to end this way”. She hates that everyone’s crying over HER death. Meanwhile, I, the viewer, and am very disgusted by the fact that literally no one will ever mourn Giselle’s actual death. Giselle will never have a funeral. Like sure, Giselle was a shitty person, but she deserves a proper death, yo.

Then Paul disappears and Ruby leads the search party into the “bayou” to find Paul dead in the water.

The Whole Custody Battle Cliche

Ruby sobs her way into the next morning, where she’s laying in her fancy bed and Beau brings in a literal 3-year-old Pearl to make Ruby feel better. I don’t know why, but in all the toddler Pearl scenes, Lifetime kept dubbing in baby noises. Why the fuck did they do that? In this particular scene, Pearl should be able to talk and say stuff, but she’s LAUGHING LIKE AN INFANT and it’s super messed up.

Paul’s sister then comes to break the news that Pearl needs to go and live with Gladys and Octavious Tate, who everyone believes are Pearl’s rightful guardians. It’s super enraging that Ruby and Beau never thought this shit through. The lawyers then take Pearl away in a not-so-great but still upsetting scene, because again, I’m a mom and watching a kid get ripped away from their parents is uh, not the most thing in the world to see, even in shitty Lifetime rendition.

Beau says they can figure things out, but Ruby vows to start telling the truth. They get a lawyer to help sort things out but because Ruby has no birth records and they have literally no way to prove that Ruby is Ruby, they’re kind of fucked, yo. So they head over to “bayou court” to sort things out, V.C. Andrews style. Nobody buys anything that Ruby or Beau say, but then Ruby begs her lawyer to call Octavious Child-Rapist Tate to the stands.

Ruby tells her to question him about why it wasn’t right for Paul and Ruby to marry. Claiming that “he cannot separate another mother from her child”, he confesses to “giving into his desires”, or rather, RAPING A TEENAGER. The story he spins is over the guilt he has of raising Paul as his son and you know, not of the rape.

The judge immediately dismissed the case nobody persecutes Octavious for being a rapist, dude. It’s fucked, but hey, at least Ruby and Beau get Pearl back, right? RIGHT?!

The End?

Cut to a few years later when Pearl, who is now older and Lifetime no longer dubs over with baby babble, walks into Ruby’s art studio and looks through Ruby’s cheap-looking collection of witchy jewelry from Etsy. A realistically-pregnant Ruby then enters the room and scolds her for looking at MOMMY’S THINGS, but Pearl relents that she can’t help it because they look so pretty.

Then Beau enters and they have a cheesetastic family moment where Pearl asks to rub Ruby’s belly to “say hi to the boys”, meaning that we’ve got another set of twins to separate in the distant future.

I can hardly wait!

My Final Thoughts

This was easily the best movie of the three so far. I feel like our four key actors all got a good feel of their characters by this point, and they all managed to work with the script and flesh them out JUST enough for me to enjoy the ride without getting too snarky.

I appreciated Ruby’s struggle with becoming her sister. The whole sister-switch plot was pretty decently executed, you know, for being a Lifetime movie. Fortunately, they managed to get an actress good enough to kind of keep things campy while also being able to play things out just enough to keep the emotion strong.

Last on the roster, we’ve got Hidden Jewel, which I will be recapping shortly.

V.C. Andrews' ALL THAT GLITTERS

6.5

Rebecca's Review

6.5/10

Pros

  • Ruby's evolution into third-tier Blair Waldorf
  • The wardrobe department actually kept the 60s aesthetic alive for the most part!

Cons

  • Ruby's pre-coitus post-coitus hair
  • Pearl's persistent baby talk
  • Octavious keeps saying that Gabrielle was an "enchantress" which is a fucked-up way to referring to a teenage girl.
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Rebecca

Rebecca is a neo-noir author from Kamloops, British Columbia. Her first collection of gritty short fiction, Vile Men was published by Dark House Press in 2015. She also writes about her writer lifestyle on her blog at rebeccajoneshowe.com.

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