TV movies have a tendency to sentimentalize any subject having to do with childbirth and motherhood, but Born Too Soon benefits from the clear-eyed reporting of the 1991 book upon which it is based. Author Elizabeth Mehren, East Coast correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, detailed the difficult life of her prematurely born daughter, Emily. Mehren is played with subtlety by Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop); her husband — New York Times reporter Fox Butterfield — by Law & Order‘s Michael Moriarty, in his robot mode. The movie conveys scientific information and tender emotions with equal assurance; its off-putting quality is that everyone appears so prosperous, so ”connected,” that good medical care begins to seem a perk of media prominence.
It’s certainly the case that Born Too Soon wants to wring tears from us — there are a number of scenes in which Reed and Moriarty talk to the tiny baby most poignantly. But it is to the credit of both the actors and director Noel Nosseck (A Mother’s Justice) that we don’t feel manipulated into sharing the sadness of Mehren and Butterfield. This TV movie earns its emotions. B+