(For my astute readers, you will remember a previous review of this film. It was written by a guest reviewer and good friend of mine. Access it here.)
This movie is like journeying back to another time period in my life. It seems impossible to think that there was a time I was unaware of the actor Sebastian Spence, but this was quite early on my twitter friendship with him (really only a few months ago, but it seems like ages). In fact, I probably would not have thought of him as a friend when I first watched this as we hadn’t even known each other for a month. He was on vacation when I first saw this movie, and he somehow missed my tweet about it (he was gone two weeks–these things happen). However, it quickly rose as one of my favorite films of his, and my mom agrees it is one of her favorites as well. My dad has an aversion to it (I think he grows tired of my “obsession” with Sebastian).
First of all, I had heard of Laura Leighton before–maybe I had seen her in other works–but in this film, she gives such a memorable performance as Cate Madighan. From the instant she appeared on the screen, I was enraptured with her beauty and the ease in which she performed her role. In every detail of this role, she was exquisite, and the chemistry between her character and Sebastian’s character was absolutely effortless. She is such a stunning woman and actress that I cannot help but be amazed by her and all she does.
There are plenty of notable roles in the supporting cast, but I am going to focus on one that truly caught my eye.
Brandon Firla plays the role of Cate’s assistant, Jeffrey, as expertly as one could want. I know this actor from truly nothing else, but I was completely impressed. He is the prim and proper assistant who always is attempting to keep Cate on the straight and narrow. There are times he comes off as a bit effeminate but I truly found that endearing and humorous in light of his character. His character knows Cate better than she does herself, but he always is there to remind her of her impending wedding. He is positively a delight to watch in this role, and his humor adds to the light-hearted and fun nature of the story.
Now to the heart of this review–Sebastian and his masterful portrayal of Conner Bailey. First off, don’t get me wrong–I adore seeing Sebastian in roles where he plays a character completely divergent from the lovely man that he is. I believe I have made that abundantly clear throughout the multitude of reviews of his films. But even I can be a romantic at heart (that may surprise some who find me to be far too serious or only focused on the daily grind, but those would be people who don’t know me well). I never mind a bit of sappiness or sweetness especially when tastefully done, and goodness, this film fulfills those requests quite well.
Something I truly appreciate about this film is the viewer is given many opportunities to see Sebastian’s beautiful smile (truly that is often a rarity in his films–not that it doesn’t happen but all too often it is missing). In addition to this, the viewer is treated to a role in which Sebastian’s character is sweet, tender, and irresistibly endearing. From the moment his character lays eyes on Laura’s character, there is no doubt that he is smitten. Another rarity in his films. Probably more reminiscent of what one might see on his current show Cedar Cove. (After all, both are Hallmark productions.) A friend of mine brought to my attention how unusually deep blue his eyes are, and I concur as I found myself often getting lost in those expressive blue eyes. And since this was my third viewing of this film, I even noticed that he raises his left eyebrow on occasion throughout this film to emphasize certain emotions. Quite honestly, these minute details may be overlooked by the casual observer, but it is those little things that demonstrate why he is such an exceptional actor–attention to detail. Even the way in which he walks, talks (with the slightest hint of a darling accent), and even carries himself make the character of Conner Bailey the almost perfect love interest for Cate (or any other woman for that matter).
When one thinks of this film, this is one of the most memorable scenes. It just doesn’t get much more romantic than this. It is so apparent that Cate and Conner are meant for each other. It just seems that Cate refuses to see it. One of my favorite scenes, however, is when Conner angrily sweeps the papers and books off his desk. It is one of the times in which the audience sees that although Conner is generally calm, he is so affected by this woman that she has disrupted his world. It is indeed another expert scene that is acted brilliantly by Sebastian.
As I discussed this movie with my mom, I made the comment that although I am sure that Sebastian enjoys playing roles full of action (and sometimes even the “bad guy” roles), there has to be some comfort in playing a role at times that is near to his character. I am not saying that I know everything about my friend–after all, I have never met him, and I may never have that opportunity. But the man whom I have come to know and for whom I care very deeply is probably not too different from Conner. And what actor does not bring a part of himself to a role?
I am candid when I say this is one of my favorites of his, but is also a “comfort” film. The script is incredibly well-written, and all actors in the film labor to make this the success that it is. This is a film of his that I will never tire of watching, and the movie itself has quite a following amongst Hallmark channel fans. I don’t watch this film to see my friend Sebastian, however. No, I watch this film to see my dear friend create one of his most memorable and well-loved roles. My mom loves to see him in films like this as well, but she agrees that his versatility is phenomenal. Indeed I could not agree more. What he brings to this role demonstrates that it is possible for a man to love a woman in such a way that she can be fully confident in who she is without having to alter herself so he will approve of her. No one should ever have to change to earn someone’s love, and the characters of Cate and Conner show that this is an attainable goal. (Yes, I realize it is only a film, but even films like this can demonstrate universal truths and promote positive behavior).
Oh and by the way, if I didn’t make it clear, I don’t intend to imply that this was an easy character for Sebastian to play. Although I don’t know for certain, I would think that sometimes playing a character that is nearer to whom you are can be more challenging than playing a part that is completely opposite of you. I could be wrong, but no matter what, there is no doubt in my mind that Sebastian worked just as tirelessly to immerse himself in this role as any other. And his effort paid off a hundredfold. If you have never had the opportunity to watch this film, I highly recommend you watch it as soon as possible.
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