This film is a cute Christian-ish rom-com, which is a light-hearted and easy watch and yes brings home thought-provoking messages about marriage and parenthood. It has the traditional family values of a largely bygone era, and that, together with its simple sweetness, made me think it was an 80s or 90s film, but apparently it’s actually from 2011 (is that really right?!).
Single mother Laura Conners is juggling an extremely successful banking career with raising her 9 year-old daughter Kelsey in New York City. They’re just about making do, but no-one is really satisfied, as Laura’s ridiculously demanding boss expects her to work 24/7, and her attempts to keep up with his demands while parenting Kelsey are not enough for him, and also lead to her neglecting Kelsey a bit. We first meet Kelsey sitting on a swing all by herself, the last child to be picked up from school again. But, Laura wins my admiration for holding down such a high-flying job and managing to be, on the whole, a really good mother too, and it’s clear that Kelsey loves her mum and is happy.
… Enter Dylan, Laura’s estranged husband. An unexpected letter arrives, telling Laura that Dylan is filing for joint custody of Kelsey. Laura and Kelsey have to travel back home to Texas for the court hearing. Laura is clearly not happy to be back in Texas, but Kelsey, who had thought she wanted to stay in New York, loves Texas right from the get-go. She has also clearly missed her Dad, and the country life and her funny, easy-going father both sweep her off her feet, to her mother’s horror.
At first, Dylan comes across as really irritating and arrogant. But one of Laura’s old friends suggests that she should give him time, and the viewer also, with some time, comes to appreciate him more and to see Laura’s faults more clearly. Neither are perfect, and both of their strengths and imperfections are gradually revealed over the course of the film, and in that way it’s a realistic depiction of the complexity and depth of human characters and life.
In court, an old-fashioned judge tells Laura and Dylan to go away and communicate and come back in a few days with a joint decision about how they will parent Kelsey. (Do such traditionally-minded judges really still exist and behave like that? I can’t imagine it, here in Britain!) Laura is horrified. Her boss is constantly calling her, telling her he needs her to come back asap to sort out a really important business deal, and she is also visibly uncomfortable back in Texas and forced to confront her past. But she has no choice.
As the days pass, Laura, Kelsey, and Dylan spend time together. The chief joy of the film, at least for me, was the old-world lifestyle in the Texas countryside, with plenty of scenes of horse-riding, gorgeous countryside, a county fair, country ranches, and Laura’s sweet farmer-type father. Gradually, Laura and Dylan begin to confront their past, grow in appreciation for each other, and romance tinges the air. And while Kelsey falls in love with Texas, even Laura slowly begins to appreciate it again. There’s no simple compromise available, though, with Laura and Dylan being very different personalities with different lives who have been separated for years, and Laura and Kelsey’s life being in New York, and Dylan’s in Texas, and plane rides being too expensive to afford often. Can they reach an agreement, and if so what? …. I won’t give away the end of the film!
I thought the pace of the ending was a bit too fast, and slightly too neat, but on the whole I really enjoyed the film. It conveys the same message as Fireproof and War Room, but in a lighter manner, which is less emotionally draining to watch, and a less constantly-overt Christian message. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, as I really enjoyed those two films too, but it’s good to have a wholesome Christian film that is at the same time an easy watch for an evening where you don’t feel like entering into painful turmoil!
The highlights of the film, for me, were: the sweet Texas country lifestyle; the gorgeous countryside and riding scenes; the likeability of Dylan, Laura, and Kelsey; the sweetness & morality of the romance; a storyline about a separated married couple getting back together; and… erm… Dylan (Brad Rowe) is very easy on the eyes 😉
This wasn’t one of those films where you think “wow, that was a work of art!”, but it was sweet, and I’ll definitely watch it again sometime 🙂 So yes, if you like sweet rom coms with Christian overtones, I’d recommend this one.
NB: I know I haven’t posted for a while… It’s been a really busy time, with work and non-work stuff, and a mix of exciting and difficult things going on. I’ve had a few blog posts I’ve wanted to write, but just didn’t have the time. I’ve missed blogging, though, and am really happy to be back 🙂