I have admitted to being a sucker for a love story in the past, and I proved it once again by how much I enjoyed, Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart. This movie is exactly what you think its going to be: sweet, overly sentimental, desperately earnest, and trying way too hard, but it was hard not to like because it wound up surprising me with its genuine characters and muted , yet believable plot.
The premise revolves around two young female school teachers moving the remote stretches of Western Canada while each falling in love with a Constable in the Canadian Royal Mounted Army. The story is presented as a frame-story in which Elizabeth Thatcher, living in the early twentieth century, finds a journal written by her aunt, also named Elizabeth Thatcher, in the late nineteenth century. The young Beth has recently been assigned a post in the most rural parts of the Canadian prairie, so it is clandestine that she find a journal written by her schoolteacher aunt recounting a similar tale in which she is stationed in a prairie community. Aunt Elizabeth, played by Maggie Grace, finds it hard to adjust, but her transition is softened when she meets Wyn Delaney, the hunky, yet (seemingly unavailable) father to one of her students, played by Stephen Amell. As we learn more about this couple from her diary, young Beth is struggling with her decision to leave the luxiourous comfort of her upper-class Eastern lifestyle as she realizes (with help from her plucky younger sister) that she might not be cut out for prairie life.
While the story of the niece is far less interesting, mostly because it doesn’t have Stephen Amell, it does have promise with the addition of two of my favorite TV ladies, Jean Smart and Lori Laughlin. They make an appearance in the last few minutes of the movie (probably paving the way for the movie to convert into a miniseries or recurring show). As young Beth and her Mountie escort (played by Teen Wolf’s Daniel Sharman) arrive in the frontier town, it is much bleaker than she had originally thought, and as Edward rides away she realizes she didn’t say the things she wanted to .
I probably won’t watch this show if it converts to regular programming, but I have no doubt it could find an audience. It has the makings of a holiday hit, and if you can excuse the Canadian accents, you just might become invested in the characters enough to tune in every week.
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