Short Version of a Long Story
Review by Kim Cantrell
Church of Christ preacher Matthew Winkler and his wife, Mary Carol Winkler, appeared to be the perfect couple living the ideal life with their three girls and well-organized life.
When Matthew is discovered dead from a shotgun wound in his Selmer, Tennessee, home and his wife and children are nowhere to be found, the family image is about to be shattered.
Enter a quick witted pro bono attorney, and Mary realizes she’s about to go on trial for her life. Suddenly, Matthew Winkler isn’t the good man she proclaimed to police just a few hours before, instead he’s an abusive, domineering husband who forced his wife to submit to unnatural sex acts and threatened to kill her if she filed for divorce.
This story is sounding real familiar, isn’t it? Well, it should because it’s the same old worn out story touted in courtrooms across America every year. Sadly, sometimes it’s all too true. Other times, it’s nothing but sensational fictional created by a gal trying to wiggle her way out of prison.
Last November, Lifetime aired its world premier of The Pastor’s Wife, starring Rose McGowan as Mary Winkler and Michael Shanks in the role of Matthew Winkler, detailing the crime that continues to be debated by a nation long after the verdict. As I said earlier, it’s a familiar tale but this time you have a humbled, homemaker wife with a young, charismatic preacher husband to spice it up.
Having followed this case from the very first day to its shocking end, I found the movie to be relatively close to story told by Mary with enough creative licensing tossed in to keep it fresh.
If you can get past an anorexic looking McGowan and the horribly fake Tennessee accents, The Pastor’s Wife is actually a tidy condensed version of the Dianne Fanning book by the same title.
Of course, if you opt for the movie you’ll miss out on the details of Mary’s public declaration in a McMinnville bar (substituted in the movie for a quick witted single liner in a diner scene), the scoop on rumors of a boyfriend while she’s out on bail, and the nasty custody battle between Mary and her in-laws.
Although the movie was okay, I’d strongly recommend reading the book and only then watching the movie.