LEAD WITH YOUR HEART – Happily married couple Ben and Maura prepare for their upcoming chapter as empty nesters. When Maura takes a temporary position away from home, the distance shines a new light on Ben and Maura’s differences. The couple must decide if they will continue their long distance marriage, or make another change after Maura’s position becomes full time. Ben and Maura must follow their hearts to make the right decision for their family, and to make this next chapter in their lives a happy one.
From the beginning, it was evident that this was going to be a typical Hallmark film, but that does not automatically mean that what I was viewing was not worth my time. Quite the contrary, to be exact. With all the negative, violent, cynical entertainment on our television screens today, finding a film that is family friendly, positive, and heart-warming is a treat. And that is exactly what this romantic film delivers. These are the kinds of films that you can sit back, watch, relax, and easily enjoy.
As we’ve come to expect from delightful films like this from Hallmark, this soon-to-be empty-nest couple has two teenage children who are either off to college or soon-to-be. Amy Forsyth plays their daughter Amy, and Steven Love plays their son Adam. While I haven’t seen either of these young, talented actors in anything else, it was an intelligent move on the part of Hallmark to include them in this adorable film.
As the older daughter, Amy is perfectly cast–she is the one who is essentially in tune with the family and marriage dynamics between her parents. She brings the adult child perspective to the film, and it was a delight to see her effortlessly portray this level-headed young lady.
However, Hallmark is also attempting to reach out to the younger viewing audience, (I am a high school teacher, and there are some Hallmark channel fans amongst the young people even though they may be hesitant to let their friends know.) and Steven Love fulfills this need as the couple’s teenage son, Adam. He is the typical high school boy who is caught up with pretty girls, but he is having to face something more serious–are his parents truly growing apart as his sister expects? Steven delivers a stellar performance that will resonate with many teenagers out there. It’s hard enough to be a high school boy in today’s society, but facing the possibility of a family break-up or possibly relocation begins to spill over into his personal life.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, nothing is guaranteed, and Kari, William, and Steven deliver that authentic performance that truly makes one consider what is important in life. After all, the older daughter is off to college anyway, so relocation will not affect her in the same way. This is the trio where the attention is focused, and these actors did an outstanding job of portraying genuine emotions, even in a lighthearted film like this.
Mother-son dynamics–definitely a home run for Hallmark. After all, Adam has his own relationship issues with his girlfriend. Nothing like a mother to help him figure it all out.
Lest you think that all is hearts and flowers, permit me to say that Hallmark has inserted a bit of drama for these two. After all, a long-distance marriage is not ideal, and in both cases, there may be some people who are potential threats to their idyllic marriage. And since Ben and Maura are certainly not “over-the-hill” by any means, one can only imagine what kinds of temptations they may face–especially since their relationship is facing distance threats. While absence sometimes makes the heart grow fonder, there are times when absence can make the heart to wander. So the biggest question is–will their marriage survive?
As the years have gone on, and their marriage has weathered children and a variety of storms, this can be an especially difficult time in the season of a marriage. After all, they both have unique interests, hobbies, and pastimes. It is entirely possible that this couple has grown apart more than they realize. It is their children and friends who realize the potential dangers long before they do themselves.
But it behooves the viewer to remember that this is Hallmark. We typically know how the story is going to end–especially a love story like this. With Hallmark, it is more the journey to the picture-perfect conclusion rather than the outcome itself.
And although Ben and Maura have to face some life-changing decisions, one can never question just how much they love each other. William and Kari have poured their hearts into these roles, and the chemistry between them on-screen is purely unquestioned.
Nothing like a feel-good film!
And I adore the fact that this couple resonates with men and women my age. For me, the best part of Hallmark is that they tend to target the middle-aged population while still keeping it suitable for the younger people.
With this film, you’re sure to find something that will be relevant to almost everyone in your family. Again, while this may not be a film that will win an Academy Award, there is no denying that this is a film that delivers the kind of story we have come to expect from Hallmark.
Though predictable, the acting is fantastic, and the story is heart-warming. In my book, that makes it a wonderful way to spend a Saturday night. Don’t forget the popcorn and the hot drinks (or cold, if you prefer).
Lead With Your Heart premieres Saturday, September 19 at 9/8c on the Hallmark Channel.
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