Hard Time: The David Milgaard Story

Watch Hard Time: The David Milgaard Story

  • 1999
  • 1 hr 25 min
  • 6.4  (156)

Hard Time: The David Milgaard Story is a Canadian made-for-television film released in 1999. The movie is a biographical drama based on the real-life case of David Milgaard, who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. The film portrays the events leading up to Milgaard's wrongful conviction and his struggle to prove his innocence. Ian Tracey plays the role of David Milgaard, a young man from a troubled family who is wrongfully accused of the rape and murder of a nurse in Saskatoon, Canada. Gabrielle Rose co-stars as David's mother, Joyce Milgaard, who fights for her son's freedom tirelessly, while Tom Melissis portrays a major witness in the case, Larry Fisher.

The opening scenes of the film depict David's ordeal in prison, where he spends most of his time in solitary confinement. Flashbacks then take us back to the 1960s, when David is a happy-go-lucky teenager living with his family in a rough neighborhood in Winnipeg. We get to see David's relationship with his mother, who is trying her best to keep her family together despite her husband's troubles; David's love for his girlfriend, Nichole; and his friendship with Ron Wilson, who later becomes a key witness in David's trial.

After David and Ron leave Winnipeg and head to Saskatoon, they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The police arrest them both, convinced they are responsible for the murder of Gail Miller, a young nurse. Despite their protestations of innocence, David and Ron are put on trial, and Ron changes his story, implicating David in the crime. Meanwhile, the police ignore other leads and clear suspects, as well as DNA evidence that could have exonerated David.

David is found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. His mother, Joyce, is convinced of his innocence and hires a lawyer, Hersh Wolch, to appeal David's case. The appeal process takes years, and legal setbacks and personal tragedies take their toll on David's family. But Joyce never gives up and continues to fight for her son's release, even after David has lost all hope.

Ian Tracey delivers a remarkable performance as David Milgaard, capturing the emotional and psychological struggles of a young man wrongly accused and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Gabrielle Rose is equally outstanding as Joyce Milgaard, a mother who refuses to give up on her son and becomes a national symbol of injustice. Tom Melissis is convincing as Larry Fisher, a troubled man whose testimony leads to David's conviction.

The cinematography and direction of the film are also noteworthy, with atmospheric lighting and camera work that effectively convey the claustrophobic nature of prison life and the mounting despair of David and his family. The story is told in a restrained and realistic manner, without resorting to sensationalism or melodrama.

Overall, Hard Time: The David Milgaard Story is a gripping and inspiring drama that sheds light on a painful chapter in Canadian justice history. It is a tribute to the perseverance and courage of David Milgaard and his mother, as well as the dedicated lawyers, journalists, and activists who fought for his freedom. The film raises important questions about the role of the police and the justice system, and the need for reform and accountability. It is a must-see for anyone interested in true crime, human rights, and social justice.

Hard Time: The David Milgaard Story
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  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 25 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.4  (156)