Secrets of a Gold Digger Killer (2021 Lifetime)

Cast:  Julie Benz, Roan Curtis, Eli Gabay, Beverley Elliott

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Based on a true story, multimillionaire Steven Beard (Eli Gabay), a retired broadcasting executive, who fell hard for Celeste (Julie Benz), an attractive waitress who served him his nightly cocktail at the local country club in Austin, Texas. In 1995, the 70-year-old widow married the mother of teenage daughters and gave Celeste homes, cars, and more jewelry and designer clothes than she could ever wear. But it wasn’t enough for Celeste. After being admitted into a mental health facility for depression, Celeste met and seduced fellow patient Tracey Tarlton (Justine Warrington), convincing her that the only way they could be together would be to murder Steven. Knowing that she stood to inherit millions of dollars upon his death, the depth of Celeste’s lies, and betrayal knew no bounds until the truth was finally revealed by Tracey. (2021)

Thoughts

The movie begins with a man being shot by an intruder while he is sleeping. He calls 911, and the house is bombarded by paramedics and cops. Celeste and her daughter, Kris, wake up and are horrified to learn that her husband has been shot. They were asleep in the other wing of the house because Steve snores loudly. 

Four years earlier, Celeste is a single mother/waitress at a bar and wears a lot of sparkly clothing. She seduces a recently widowed man named into taking her out to dinner. Celeste quits her job because Steve Beard is her meal ticket to a better life. 

Steve pulls out all the stops for Celeste; he wines and dines her. He asks her to move in with him, but she tells him that she is not that kind of girl. Steve hires Celeste as his house manager. 

Celeste and her daughters, Jennifer and Kristina, move into the estate. They are surprised to meet his daughter Becky, who is much older than Celeste and VERY suspicious. (So are her daughters, who are slow to pick up the fact that Celeste is sleeping with Steve.) 

Nine months later, Celeste marries a millionaire in an extravagant wedding with strange green lighting. Steve even gifts Kris and Jennifer necklaces and tells them that he wants to adopt them because he is a family. They seem truly happy, or Steve is having fantastic sex. Becky is quite the downer and tells her dad that she doesn’t trust Celeste. Celeste, however, has signed a prenup. 

The honeymoon doesn’t last long. Celeste and Steve are quick to argue about money. When Steve says he will divorce Celeste, she threatens to kill herself and check into a mental health facility. She makes new friends, a crazy lesbian named Tracey, and is ready for a fresh start with Steve. They promise to be good to one another, and Steve lets Celeste renovate the house. 

Back in the present, a Detective questions Celeste. Jennifer and her boyfriend David suggest that it was Tracey that shot Steve. Tracey is obsessed with Celeste and would do anything to anyone who got in between their friendship. Detectives question Tracey and bring her in after finding the weapon in her home. Tracey admits to trying to kill Steve because she is in love with Celeste. 

Steve pulls through surgery, and detectives start to question him. Celeste cuts the questioning short and shames them for harassing a man in recovery. She claims not to have been involved with Tracey. Claiming it was just a friendship gone wrong. Tracey calls Celeste and asks if she is still in love with her. 

Celeste meets with Tracey in an empty parking lot. She gifts her a ring and is manipulating Tracey into thinking that she still loves her. The manipulation started when Tracey and Celeste met in the mental facility. Steve was jealous of Tracey and never wanted Celeste to be friends with her.

Steve doesn’t make it, but Celeste is sure that he changed the will while he was on his death bed. Celeste stands to inherit 50% of his estate. Celeste makes a statement to the press and throws Tracey under the bus. Tracey talks to the media too and exposes all. She tells the same story to her lawyer and plans her defense for the court case. 

Kristina and Jennifer help their mother plan Steves funeral and theirs. (There is a bundle package!) Becky calls Celeste a gold digger and disgusting. Celeste leaves the wake early and downs mini vodka bottles in the limo on the way home. She is surprised to see the police outside. They charge her with the murder of her husband and book. 

Celeste meets with her lawyer (the most expensive lawyer in Texas) and tells him that Tracey was obsessed with her and denies having a relationship. She is released on bond. Kristina is concerned about money and doesn’t approve of her mother’s spending. Celeste threatens to kill herself and her daughters, and Kristina asks her mother to go back to the mental facility. Celeste agrees.

With her daughters against her and Tracey talking too much, Celeste talks with her nail technician. She used to be in prison and still has connections inside. A $10,000 check is made out to Heather, and Kris finds the check receipt in her mother’s things. She questions her mother, and Celeste explains that it was a loan, then she points chopsticks at Kristina. 

The daughters start really digging into her mother’s financials and find $50,000 life insurance policies taken out on them. They move in with David, and Kristina visits Tracey in prison. They both realize that Celeste has played them. Jennifer and David ask Kristina to record a confession while meeting with her mother.

Kristina stops by the house and sits down with her mother. 

Court proceedings begin, and Celeste throws herself down the stairs to gain sympathy. She comes into court with crutches and a cast to create a spectacle. 

Tracey takes the stand and doesn’t come across well. Celeste’s lawyer uses her own words against her and paints her as mentally unstable. The jury doubts Tracey’s credibility.

Kristina and Jessica decide to speak out against their mother. Kristina is the most damning. She plays the recording she made of her mother during their conversations. The tapes corroborate Tracey’s story. Celeste admits to paying Heather, the nail tech, to take a hit out on Tracey. 

Celeste is found guilty of capital murder and limps away on crutches. (Which is unintentionally hilarious.) Celeste is sentenced to life in prison and Tracey was released in 2011. Celeste maintains her innocence.

Side Note

Minority Report: Detectives, Therapist, Ann, Nurse Sarah, Nail Tech, Judge, Prosecution, Jury members, cop,

Read more about the real case here.  

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Overall rating

🔪🔪🔪🔪 (4 Knives)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required.)

*Photo Credit: © 2021 Lifetime® | A+E Networks®

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