This film chronicles a real-life 1977 murder case in Madison,
Wisconsin. Barbara Hoffman had a genius IQ and straight A's as a
biochemistry major at UW Madison when she dropped out of school to make
good money as a hooker. Not long afterwards, she concocted a scheme to
kill one of her clients, a lonely and likeable old fella, for his home and
his insurance money. While she was under indictment for that murder, her
fiancÚ died of the same causes, and Barbara was the beneficiary of a
spectacularly large life insurance policy - $750,000. That was just a
trifle suspicious since the fiancÚ only made $9,000 per year as an AV
techie. Hoffman had been making the massive payments out of her hooking
As if that weren't incriminating enough, at one point she told her pimp
she was going to kill her fiancÚ for the insurance money.
Doesn't sound all that much like the work of a genius, does it?
Oddly, neither of the men she allegedly killed was particularly unhappy
about placing all of their assets in her name. They were lonely, unhappy
men and she made their lives better. They may have found the whole deal
squirrely, but if so, they didn't care.
Hoffman was convicted of one murder, acquitted of the other, and is
still serving her life sentence to this day.
The actual case may sound interesting, but the film is marred by an
almost total lack of suspense, and offers no insight into the events.
Since Hoffman has never talked to anyone about the case and remains almost
a total cipher, the screenplay was left with no meat on its bones. At the
end of the film we know nothing about her at all. And the film has nothing
else to offer. The other characters are uninteresting and underdeveloped,
the dialogue is drab, and there is no action of any kind. The film
essentially consists of 90 minutes of tedious low-budget exposition,
followed by about a minute of anti-climactic resolution. Even if the
screenwriter had written The Red Violin, however, the performances would
still have turned the whole thing sour. Some of the actors are just plain
incompetent, and all of the performances are so low-key as to be nearly
Winter of Frozen Dreams is just a dull, unrewarding misfire which
really has nothing going for it, not even guilty pleasures. It's not even
above-average for a made-for-cable offering. Perhaps not even average.
"Apart from that, how did you enjoy Our
American Cousin, Mrs. Lincoln?"