By Melissa Pierson
Updated September 15, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

The release of Losing Isaiah on video seems like a homecoming, since the drama resembles a TV movie-of-the-week, complete with an aura of carefully manufactured authenticity. The film methodically pushes one hot button after another: drug-abusing unwed mothers and welfare; yuppie privilege and cross-racial adoption. What saves it from being just another Sunday-evening hankie-fest are Jessica Lange and Halle Berry, who, as adoptive and biological moms squaring off over the future of the boy they both love, give furious, moving performances. They don’t deserve the cheap ending, the kind of message you get with a nickel from a gumball machine. B-