A baker in small-town Minnesota turns amateur sleuth after finding her friend and delivery driver shot to death behind her shop.
I have to say I was so ecstatic when Barbara Niven began tweeting about filming this film. You might know her from the immensely popular Cedar Cove show on Hallmark that will be in its third season this summer (read my review of season one here). I honestly knew nothing of the movie until I happened upon a tweet where she mentioned she was filming it. I had heard of Joanne Fluke–never read any of her books but I have a couple in my library–and for me, there is nothing as entrancing as a mystery (unless it is my friend Sebastian Spence on the screen–come on, my friends, you know I had to get his name in there somewhere), and since it is a Hallmark production, I was convinced it would be tastefully done with an exemplary cast.
As the baker-turned-amateur sleuth in the town, Alison Sweeney is the perfect Hannah. Although this actress seems familiar, I never watched Days of Our Lives or anything else in which she has appeared. From the moment Alison appeared on the screen, I liked her. There was this instant connection with her character, and I silently thanked Hallmark for casting her in this role and deciding to make a series of films based on this book series. Alison is a natural actress who gives credibility to any role she undertakes. How do I know this? Watch the movie, and I think you’ll agree with me. Not all actors have the innate knack for making acting look as effortless as she does, and I certainly anticipate seeing her again very soon. This character is a perfect fit for her abilities as far as I’m concerned.
Although Cameron is known in soap opera circles as well, I have actually seen this handsome leading man in other Hallmark films. And every time, he is the perfect suitor. He is the ideal detective, and I love the easy chemistry between him and Alison. If I had a choice, I would be #TeamMike all the way. In my humble opinion, he and Hannah should be together. Cameron is another of those actors who just fits easily into whatever role he is placed. It is fascinating to realize there are two such actors in the same film, and this guarantees an outstanding movie.
Let’s talk about the cat. I myself am a cat-lover. We are a family that has rescued and tamed feral cats for years, and Hannah’s cat reminds me a lot of my sweet cat (although mine is much more vocal).
I simply adore the fact that Hannah talks to her cat, and the cat talks back. I found it quite humorous that when I was selecting photos to post with this review, there were almost as many pictures of the cat as there were of Alison! Yes, the cat steals the show, and I look forward to many more films with this cat. I tend to think Alison must like cats since she and this cat had amazing chemistry as well (Okay, is there anyone with whom Alison cannot work? Probably not!).
So who can forget Hannah’s overbearing mother Delores? Barbara Niven plays this part with ease like she always does. Although I have only followed Barbara’s career for a little less than a year, the woman is absolutely phenomenal. The character of Delores is relatively small but essential to the framework of the film. Whenever Barbara AKA Delores is on the screen, you cannot help but give her your full attention. Barbara always has this way of lighting up the screen with her stunning smile and personality. And she and Alison together are a double threat. They could easily pass for mother and daughter, and the expert way in which they play off of each other is sheer delight. And Alison must be a strong actress because anyone who can counter Barbara’s natural charisma with such sweet and captivating poise is one talented lady (they are the perfect on-screen duo).
Although Delores is one of the “those” mothers, this was the scene that just caused me to melt. In spite of any faults, every woman should have a mother like Delores. She accepts and knows her daughter for who she is. And since Barbara is playing the role, you believe it. Her acting, no matter where, when, or whom, is always genuine, flawless, and from the heart. If you love her in Cedar Cove as Peggy, you’ll definitely love her just as much as Delores.
When my mom watched this film, she instantly recognized Gabriel Hogan in the role of Norman since she has recently discovered Heartland. I haven’t immersed myself in that show yet, and I will admit to not paying as much attention to this character as I should have. But I must say the dentist line did crack me up! Indeed, Gabriel has had an extensive career–maybe I’ve seen him in other roles but I’m not certain. He played his part so well, and he was an excellent foil for Cameron’s character. I’m sure we’ll see him again.
Isn’t this a perfect shot? Hannah is a baker after all, so what would you expect? Speaking of potential violence and profanity, neither of these is a major concern. This is Hallmark, and this kind of mystery would be termed a “cozy mystery.” The profanity is mild to nonexistent (I can’t guarantee there is no profanity, but I don’t recall), and the violence is fairly toned down. I will admit there is a “dark and stormy night scene” that may not be suitable for very young children, but everything is done tastefully.
The three lovely ladies in the film! Lisa is Hannah’s sister, and they have quite the adventures together. This is the beginning of a new film series, and it is one that you do not want to miss. Ready for another Sebastian Spence connection? Lisa Durupt had a very small role one on of my favorites of his films: Category 7. This gal has acted in many things as well, but I don’t recall seeing her elsewhere.
In many ways, part of the fun of watching the premiere is tweeting with the stars, principally Barbara. That woman is a hoot and a trooper. She challenged us women to don some red lipstick and take a selfie. I hate selfies! But since Barbara encouraged us…
Yes there I am during one of the commercial breaks. I had to mix about three colors of lipstick together and I had no other makeup. But at least I did it, and Barbara said I had beautiful smile (well so does Barbara!). Although it is fair to say that one can enjoy this film any time, watching the premiere and tweeting with the cast just makes it that much more enjoyable!
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