Lifetime presents Petals on the Wind

Weeds are growing in the garden!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: March 1, 2022

Review Rating: 7

The continuing story of what happened to the Foxworth children ten years after they were confined to the attic.

Oh-kay. Lifetime did the never-before-done and made a TV movie out of the book sequel to Flowers in the Attic. And despite all my misgivings, it’s…not bad? Some elements of the book they kept, some were tossed, some were completely changed. If you’re not a fan of the books, I honestly don’t know what you’re doing here anyway. It didn’t seem to me that Lifetime advertised the fact that they were showing the sequel too loudly, but rumor has it they’re planning on making more V.C. Andrews-books-inspired movies anyways. So let’s see how this one stacks up!

We begin at, where else for the poor Dollanganger children, a funeral in South Carolina. Paul Sheffield, the benefactor and savior of Christopher (Wyatt Nash), Cathy (Rose McIver) and Carrie (Bailey Buntain), has passed on and left it all to the three glorious blonde kids he adopted and gave his name. Carrie’s in an exclusive boarding school, Christopher is training to become Dr. Sheffield, and Cathy’s still at the barre, only now she’s about to be romanced, if you want to call it that, by the son of her Ballet Madame, Julian Marquet (Will Kemp). This is the second in a long line of twisted book excerpts, for it demonstrates quite clearly in the book that Julian is a passionate Russian ballet danseur, not a smarmy bone-jarring rival-sabotaging Brit. Cathy decides to go to New York under Julian’s dubious tutelage and perform with his ballet company, since he already secured her a position in the corps de ballet and one in his bed, in his dirty apartment. Meanwhile Christopher, in his residence at the hospital, takes on this romance with this charming red-headed southern belle, Sarah Reeves (Whitney Hoy), which is nowhere to be found in the book either; Christopher pining for Cathy the entire time he’s not with her, though, is spot on. So Cathy is about to star in her first solo performance of Romeo and Juliet with Julian, annnd well, Julian gets caught doing things inappropriate with Carrie backstage. Christopher gets angry, there’s a confrontation, and hey next thing you know, more death. Julian’s role in Cathy’s life and the large influence he had on everything is pretty quickly skimmed over, which is a shame, but at least he actually got a walk-on role, however brief. Paul Sheffield, who had arguably even more influence on the lives of all the Dollanganger survivors, only got a funeral and some pictures.

So now it’s some time later and Cathy is a semi-retired ballerina instructor with an infant son, whom she appropriately named Jory. (In the book, the J stands for Julian and the rest is for Cory, Cathy’s little brother who died in the previous story.) Christopher is still being romanced, more or less, by Sarah and her father, who of course happens to be the head Doctor of the hospital Chris works in. Carrie, still being tortured for her freakish lack of size at school, is now a fine young woman who finds burgeoning romance in the eyes of choir instructor and minister Alex Conroy (Ross Phillips). Corrine (remember her?) meanwhile is getting Foxworth Hall completely renovated, while Grandmother Olivia (Ellen Burstyn) suffers her late-aged ill health. Christopher is going forward with plans to marry Sarah, no matter what reservations he might have, save one – he simply cannot get over his feelings for Cathy. This won’t help anything or anyone, clearly demonstrated when Cathy and Chris are trying to cling to each-other and yet somehow escape the past at the same time, in tears and love, and Sarah finds them in each-others arms. Weddings off. Alex asked Carrie to marry him too, adoringly telling her she’s like a perfect porcelain doll, which is entirely the wrong thing to say, not that he had any reason to know it. And Carrie, in all her eager innocent I-love-you-still mode, goes to deliver in person a wedding invitation to Corrine, who as always, rejects her most cruelly. Remember how earlier Carrie said she didn’t care for sweets, and powdered sugar donuts in particular? She knows how to make them herself anyway; after all, this is the only way to ensure she meets Cory in heaven, by dying exactly the same way he did. And for Cathy, that is the very last and final straw – Corrine needs to pay, Mother needs to pay, for all that she’s done to her children.

And of course, the most effective way to begin revenge on Corrine (Heather Graham) is to seduce her much-younger husband Bart, who laments the fact that he can’t have children with his wife. Score one, literally, for Cathy. Then what we have to do is storm Foxworth Hall to have a confrontation with Grandmother Olivia, if you want to call it that. And finally, Cathy’s rage and Christopher’s enduring sadness will culminate in a final showdown for Christmas at Foxworth Hall! What happens is, more or less, in line with the ending of the book, but seriously, that final scene where Corrine just loses her mind in front of everyone lacked the dramatic effect the book had. If nothing else, Foxworth Hall was supposed to be a lot larger and more grand, for Cathy’s sweeping entrance and accusations, than it was portrayed in the film.

Rumors are flying that Lifetime will be making the other sequel Dollanganger books, If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday, and even the prequel story of Olivia Foxworth in Garden of Shadows, into films as well. Given that some key plot elements were simply skipped altogether from Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind, it will be interesting to see how well or badly these other films stack up too!