The drama, about a young man whose wife passes away and the emotional journey he goes on to overcome the grief of her loss, stars Oscar® nominee and Emmy® Award winner Barbara Hershey, Golden Globe® Award Winner Ron Perlman, Daniel Gillies from Spiderman 2, Pat Crawford Brown of Desperate Housewives and Irma P. Hall of Soul Food. It is written by Ted Henning and directed by Kenny Golde.
Ron Perlman is this crusty old ex-cop living in a retirement community, still in love with Barbara Hershey’s Hilda (can’t call a lady “crusty,” but she shares the same bombastic DNA as her male counterpart – being a no no-nonsense, wise-as-a-sage, bossy protagonist, full of bon mots aimed at steering younger folk through the detours of life). Daniel Gillies plays the young man floundering around after the loss of his dead wife until he meets up with his Aunt Hilda and the crusty old ex-cop. By film’s end, they teach one another the meaning of life.
The themes have been more successfully handled in other films.
Not rated, the expression “oh my God” is repeated around ten times, the s-word is heard once from the female lead, and there are a few minor expletives (mainly “hell”) spoken by others. The elderly cop chomps away at his cigar and downs a beer or ten throughout. Miss Hershey, in keeping with the flower-power, free-spirit philosophy of her youth, instills in her character a contempt for structured religion, preferring a one-with-nature creed over worshipping with others in church. She is so rude to those with different views and sensibilities that I found her character just as close-minded and bullying as those she ridicules. There’s also the bawdy elderly woman who wisecracks her way through each of her scenes, the humor taken from sexual innuendo and bordering on juvenile crudeness.
DVD Alternatives: The Apostle (1997). This perceptive drama, written, directed and starring Robert Duvall, never condescends, nor is it antagonistic toward people of faith while telling its story of a good but imperfect man’s redemption. PG-13. I found nothing offensive for exploitive purposes. The implied adultery, its one violent scene, the reverend's faulty nature, and a couple of mild expletives serve to further the story rather than shock us or malign the ministry.
Enchanted April. A delightful fable about four women in 1920s London escaping inattentive husbands and repressed lifestyles by renting a castle in Portofino. There they discover the estate has a magical effect on all sojourners. Witty dialogue, dreamy cinematography, and savory performances from Joan Plowright, Polly Walker and the rest of the cast.
In America. This is a semi-autobiographical tale written by Oscar winner Jim Sheridan and his filmmaker daughters Naomi and Kirsten about an Irish couple and their two adolescent daughters beginning a new life in the U.S. To 11-year-old Christy (Sarah Bolger) and her younger sister (real-life sibling Emma), America is a place of magic where anything is possible. To their parents, it represents a place to begin anew. Carried by the girls’ youthful hope and faith, the family survives the hurt they left behind. Caution: it is rated PG-13 (2 obscenities and four minor expletives, but I caught no misuse of God’s name. One violent scene has a junkie pulling a knife on a main character; though disturbing, it does not end tragically. We see the parents in a sexual situation, undressing, her bare back is seen, and the two wind up in bed, making love. This scene is not graphic and it portrays a husband and wife expressing their love. Though casual sex is frequently used in movies in an attempt to be erotic, here it expresses a part of married life, showing that sex between married people is good and part of God’s plan. The subject matter of this film is too adult for little kids as it deals with the death of a child, the possible death of a mother during childbirth and the loss of a dear family friend, but I believe mature teens and older will find the honest portrayal of a family’s ability to endure life’s struggles both touching and insightful.
Saint Maybe. (1998) Blythe Danner, Edward Herrmann, Melina Kanakaredes, Thomas McCarthy, Jeffrey Nordling, Mary-Louise Parker. Hallmark Hall of Fame. When a ne’er-do-well finds himself the cause of his brother’s death, he seeks a reason for his life. He stumbles upon a church gathering and quickly turns his life around, living for others.
This affecting Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of a family dealing with the loss of a loved one is a wonderful film suitable for the Christmas holidays. There are so many powerful messages and life lessons, none of which over-powers the entertaining drama. What a delight to find a film where scripture is quoted, the Christian lifestyle is not mocked, prayers are spoken and the gospel message is put into practice. Due to the adult subject matter and two deaths, the material may not be suitable for little ones, but older children and their parents will be nurtured as they see a family come together after tragic circumstances. I really liked this movie. But beware: have a Kleenex on hand. It will move you. Unrated (two women have a beer; a car crash kills a man – seen twice; an accidental death by drug overdose; the family pet passes away).