I watched this movie because I loved the lead actress Emmanuelle Vaugier in Hallmark's wonderful Love in Paradise movie with the recently departed Luke Perry. She's quite beautiful but she's also great at playing a strong female character. And as another reviewer noted, she knows how to ride a horse (and get dirty on a ranch). I was surprised, and pleased, not to see the NYC city girl "fish out of water" trope overplayed. And yet Tara did need some help from time to time which helped fuel her attraction to Boone (played by the dependable Hallmark vet Kavan Smith).
The love story was fine, but I was really fascinated by the rather unique situation of her relationship with her stepdaughter (played convincingly by Hallmark child actress vet Cassidy Nugent). Hallmark has been more and more willing to get "real" with their story lines. The lazy default was often a romance between an unmarried character who had never found "the right one" and someone whose spouse had died or conveniently disappeared.
That's the not the real world for most 30-50 year olds (the average age range for Hallmark leads). With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce (even worse rates for 2nd and 3rd marriages), most dating options in that age group come with divorce baggage. And that baggage is a little different in this movie, which Hallmark developed from a book by #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller (actually Book 3 in the Parable series for those wanting more). There's a few significant changes by writer J. B. White, who did an AWFUL job with Road Trip Romance, and this much better movie almost makes up for that truly awful movie (as a Hallmark movie junkie, I rarely trash a Hallmark movie, but yeeech!)
In the Miller book, Erin was a twin, Boone lived in a trailer, his kids lived with his sister after his wife died, Tara actually bought her place and moved there to be a chicken farmer, and they did not get along at all after they first met). I like the changes.
But the key detail in the movie that fascinated me was that Tara, though not her biological mother, was the only mother that Erin had ever really known during her 13 years. The divorce would have been a major emotional upheaval in her life and, a year later, as her father had moved on with someone else, she was feeling some understandable angst, confusion and resentment. The movie does a good job helping the audience feel her dread at the fact that her "Mom" would leave for the entire summer while she was forced to suddenly spend time with (and unwillingly accept) a new woman in her father's life (and with whom she had no connection).
In hindsight, it would have been a good idea for Tara to have legally adopted Erin, but not having done so, she had no legal rights over Erin despite what appears to be a decade of "motherhood" and the bonds that obviously grew between them. It was actually quite heartbreaking. And the movie, admirably, doesn't provide easy answers.
Peter Benson is probably the best go to guy for the "wrong" boyfriend/husband role. I just watched him be really annoying ("go for Brad") in Falling For Vermont, a warm, comforting blanket of a movie which I've now seen for maybe the 6th time. His character here (James) borders on self absorbed caricature, but they pull him back a bit, though not much. It might be time to throw Benson a bone and give him a role where he gets the girl.
There's also some nice drone shots and some cool tracking shots during the barbecue. And the child actors playing Boone's sons are solid, as is the rest of the cast. This is definitely a top tier Hallmark movie, and I always grade Hallmark on a curve (which is how this and Casablanca, a far better movie, both get 10s).
Bring back Emmanuelle Vaugier ASAP!
Big Sky River
Drama / Romance
Big Sky River
Drama / Romance
Trying to move forward after a messy divorce, a woman returns to Parable, Montana., and meets a handsome neighbor who presents an unexpected twist.
August 15, 2022 at 09:38 PM
Tech specs720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1 hr 24 min
P/S 5 / 20