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Movie review: ‘Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret’

I sat down to watch “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” Saturday night not really sure what to expect. Typically you don’t see a movie come out within weeks of the actual event it’s portraying.

Here’s the good news, if you haven’t seen the Lifetime made-for-TV movie yet, but you followed the actual court case, you didn’t miss much. It loosely follows the story of Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander from the time they meet to the time she stabs him 27 times, slits his throat and shoots him in the shower.

Tania Raymonde (Jodi Arias) and Jesse Lee Soffer (Travis Alexander) convincingly played their roles. Raymonde’s portrayal of Arias, if anything, made her character seem slightly more crazy than the Jodi Arias we’ve seen in the court room and conducting TV interviews over the last few years.

David Zayas was cast as Detective Flores and being a fan of “Dexter,” where he plays another police officer, it’s tough not to like his role in the movie as well.

Here’s the problem though: “Dexter” and most shows like it are fiction and easy to watch as entertainment. This trial, though, was no joke. Travis Alexander is dead and it was tough to watch this film as entertainment when you know what his family went through the last several years and particularly in court in Phoenix the last five months.

This was a true story and when it comes to true stories turned into films I don’t like to see many liberties taken with the actual events. I’d prefer to let the story as it happened speak for itself, there’s no reason to “Hollywood it up.”

“Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” takes a lot of liberties with its script versus what happened in real life.

• In real life Jodi Arias decided to convert to the Mormon faith about two months into her relationship with Alexander. In the film it’s five months. We’re also treated to Arias blowing a gasket in the film about Alexander not being comfortable discussing marriage and love five months in, we have no idea if that happened or not.

• In real life we never heard about Arias sending Alexander pictures of herself and another man in the bedroom, hacking Alexander’s email, or breaking into his house (though we do know she’d supposedly broken in through his doggy door to sleep on his couch) to leave him more pictures. All those scenes make their way into the movie though.

• Alexander sold legal services insurance in real life as well as serving as a motivational speaker. In the movie they solely focus on his job as a motivational speaker.

• Arias is seen singing in jail in the movie AFTER she’s been convicted of first-degree murder. In real life she was singing before she even went on trial.

There are more issues than that but I’ll stop there.

Director Jace Alexander doesn’t stick close enough to the facts for my taste. I’d like to think when something said “based on actual events” that it could just be told as it occurred as opposed to creative license taking over.

Overall, this could’ve been a lot worse and frankly, I was expecting worse. The characters played their roles well and the movie certainly doesn’t drag on. I was hoping for a more accurate portrayal but that’s only one of several reasons the Lifetime Network and I don’t cross paths often.