I was not planning on reviewing this before it aired, but after screening it, I was so utterly impressed with this movie–seriously, it is one of the best Hallmark films I have seen in a long time. And I don’t say that glibly by any means. I know I am known for my positive reviews, but this one goes far beyond that. I never once had to remind myself to concentrate on the positive aspects of the film. The acting, the story, and the message were one of the finest Hallmark has featured in some time. Not to mention, it was gentle, amusing, and genuinely enjoyable family viewing.
At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Maya and Addison as played by Rachael and Hannah respectively. To be honest, Rachael was new to me–I am far behind on television films from the past. I am playing proverbial “catch-up” right now. Hannah was a returning favorite from both October Kiss and even My Sweet Adrina. Both actresses were enchanting, and I could sympathize with single mother Maya dropping off her techie daughter at summer camp. I think many parents will understand the dilemma. What? No cell phones at camp? Rachael infused Maya’s character with precisely the right kind of motherly intuition and skills (well, she is a mother in real life, and I would suppose that is advantageous in this situation). And Hannah characterizes Addison just as one would expect. Definitely a wonderful relationship between the two actresses to play such a convincing mother-daughter relationship on screen.
Before I comment on the other leads of the film, let me acquaint you with some other conspicuous performers to watch out for in the film.
You’ll probably recognize Christine Willes as Eleanor as she plays Doris in the Gourmet Detective films, and the new one is set to air on October 9 (Please don’t miss that one!). Christine is faultless in her role for this film. I absolutely adore her and her character.
I will be shocked if Hallmark audiences do not recognize James Kirk in the role of Sean. You may have seen him in Love on the Sidelines, Family for Christmas, and even an episode of Signed, Sealed, Delivered. You might even remember him from Eve’s Christmas (originally a Lifetime film, but now shown on Hallmark). He is always a genuine treat to see on screen no matter his role.
Chloe Babcook has been on TV in several well-known roles, and as Chloe in this film, she certainly earns an honorable mention. I plan to look up her film The Christmas Secret–not sure what network that was on, but I would be interested to find that film!
As Maya’s friend who has given her necessary part-time employment, Crystal Balint is absolutely awesome! In fact, as a minor character, she is probably one of my favorites. This gal has an incredible amount of credits to her name: October Kiss, Stolen Daughter, Ring by Spring, Cedar Cove, etc. She also has some upcoming works: Aftermath, Prison Break:Sequel. Indeed, she is a lovely actress to watch as she has quite a reputation, and her interactions with Rachael on-screen are positively divine!
Aiden Kahn as Josh? In addition to this role, you’ve possibly seen him in Dater’s Handbook, Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters is Gold, and many non-Hallmark works. And from the looks of things, he has something substantial in the works, so I’d say watch for Aiden as I expect to hear bigger things from him in the future.
Hannah Pederson lends her talents to the role of Polly, and we’ve seen her in Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe and Garage Sale Mystery: The Deadly Room. Of course, plenty more than just Hallmark, but she deserves a notable mention in this film.
I couldn’t place Matt Visser, and then when I investigated, I discovered he had a small, pivotal role in Autumn Dreams. His career may just be in its inception, but he is here momentarily as a freshman, so pay attention.
As the camp counselor, Rhona Rees does some integral work in this film, and we’ve seen this actress in an episode of Signed, Sealed, Delivered, amongst other non-Hallmark works. Her credit history is massive, so it makes sense why I remember her role in this film as she makes it unforgettable as a season professional does.
In truth, every actor in the film as well as every crew member warrants a celebrated reference as this film never lagged nor lost my attention no matter what. I have only touched on the highlights when it comes to the minor characters, but at least you know the preeminent supporting cast, and I promise I’ll be watching specifically for these again the next time I watch it (in just an hour or so from now).
It is these three, however, who absolutely make the film what it is. Such unparalleled acting and interactions between Lucas, Rachael and Travis. No, it’s not the “three stooges,” for these three tell a much more compelling story and give stunningly impressive performances that far supersede the antics of those superb comedians from another era. While the story does involve a love triangle, Hallmark’s writers seem to avoid the pitfalls we sometimes witness when viewing films that revolve around that particular issue. In fact, jealousy doesn’t even seem to be the dilemma between the two young men. At least, not jealousy over the young lady’s affections.
As the “lovable jerk,” Travis portrays the smooth-talking, forward-thinking Will who is often looking for a means to an end. Unfortunately, he is not overly principled in his business dealings nor his relationships. He sees the attractive, vivacious Maya, and he decides to woo her right from the outset. He is not as interested in her brains per se. Thankfully, he is open to discovering a new world with Maya at times, but when he sees his chance to get ahead, no matter the tactics, he is a bit unscrupulous. We can only hope that he will see his fallacy before it’s too late because yes, he is handsome, a quick wit, and can always provide a good time to those who are out on the town with him. Maya learns that on more than one occasion. Recently, I interviewed Travis about this very role, and I agree one hundred percent with his take on the film and the character.
As the more traditional, reserved but suave businessman, Lucas portrays Colin brilliantly. In fact, I was more drawn to his character from the start, for he is the quieter character, and that’s often more my style. He is the one who is the effective leader, and he does things by the book to the letter of the law. In fact, Will is a source of irritation to him as we can see because Will is more about bending the rules. They’re the ideal foils for each other, and Lucas merely immerses himself in this strong, silent character. He sees Maya’s beauty, no doubt, but he sees more than that. He is impressed by her demeanor and her commitment to the causes about which she is passionate. He admires her long before he falls for her. In fact, I would venture to say the “falling in love” part happens without his even recognizing it. He prefers to remain in the background, but when Will breaks too many points of protocol, he does step in and attempt to rectify the situation if he can. I adored Lucas in Tulips in Spring, but I probably even preferred him in this role because he portrays Colin with such dignified grandeur that just draws me in. I had no heart palpitations as I watched his character’s interactions (until the end–I will admit to having a few chills of ecstasy). And I also was blessed to interview Lucas recently about his character in this film. Don’t think that Travis is the only one with a sense of humor. Lucas can have quite a wicked sense of humor himself, but he was more restrained in this film. Notwithstanding, I believe you will see it sneak out even within such an austere character as Colin.
Of course, if you wonder who the unquestioned star of the film is–it is none other than Rachael. This woman is phenomenal in the role of Maya. Not only does she have those extraordinary character interactions with her on-screen daughter, but she has an effortless way of infusing Maya with exactly the appropriate kind of emotion, expression, and more that fits the scene impeccably every time. I know I call many of the actors and actresses consummate professionals, and I always mean it. But when I call Rachael a consummate professional, she is in a different echelon, as far as I’m concerned. She raises the bar for every leading actress at Hallmark, especially those who are new to the brand. She has brought her expertise and exceptional acting chops to the minutiae of every single moment that she is on camera. Nothing is counterfeit nor forced. I never thought, “Rachael is playing Maya.” I just thought of her as Maya, and not every actress can pull off that feat.
enjoying a romantic dinner al fresco with Will, or
on a houseboat with Colin, Maya has that grace, sweetness, and unspoiled nature about her as only Rachael can portray. True, other actresses could have played the role, but not with the joi de vivre and sheer professionalism that Rachael brings. Recently, I interviewed Rachael as well, and I am completely sold on her as a person and an actress.
At the core of this film, is the message of integrity and not permitting anything to squelch your dreams. And remembering what is important in this world. I can hardly wait to watch this film this evening (August 20) on the Hallmark network because even though I’ve already seen it, the second viewing is bound to be better. I hope everyone will tune in–I realize there are other things competing for your time and attention, but I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Please at least set your DVR!
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