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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Magic of Being Extraordinarily Dazed

Guess what I finally watched tonight.

I had every intention of coming here and writing an intelligent review, a guy's perspective on the movie, but I find that, having been blessed (or cursed) with the "sensitive male" gene, and these Hallmark productions never failing to move me, I've been reduced to a puddle by this achingly lovely film.

So I'll make a few observations, jot down the moments that moved me, while I gather my wits.

Coming to this movie fresh, as I did, knowing only that it starred Skeet Ulrich and Keri Russell and that she was somehow his wife without having planned to be, I wondered from the start just what sort of "mean supper" she'd been coerced into consuming, and why.

"You're so fine, I can't believe no man ... I can't believe any man would ever do this to you."

Having seen him primarily in "Jericho," Skeet was a revelation in this movie, having a strength of a quiet sort, but not at all like the action-hero Jake Green. And I thought Jake was awkward with women! For much of this movie, Ray can hardly look Livy in the eye.

Livy's cynicism about people ("People judge, people gossip"), quickly countered by Ray's honest reaction ("They won't say a thing ... They want the best for us").

The dance, where Livy says she won't, and then she does, and the walls between Ray and Livy begin to come down, and despite how awkward they are at first, they start to enjoy themselves, and each other.

Ray, sitting at the dinner table, suddenly and unexpectedly saying "I've been thinking about Troy." I wanted to reach into the TV screen and bear-hug him. The smile Livy gives him at the end of that scene melted me. And then, the kiss that almost was.

Ray changing his mind about the dog staying indoors.

"I'd do anything to make you happy."

(No wonder you love this movie!)

The awful moment when Ray hands her the envelope from Edward, and we know what he must be feeling.

"Ray, I made a mistake."

"Which mistake would that be?"

And the two moments of revelation, where Livy tells Martha what has really happened, and Ray finally says what he must say to Livy, the things I wish Jake would have said to Heather before she headed off to New Bern on "Jericho."

"I can't let you go without telling you how I feel. I've fallen in love with you ... For me, you're the best thing that's ever happened."

Ray wasn't the only one trying to hold back his tears at this point.

I liked the "B" story with the Japanese women workers, the tragedy of their interrupted lives, Livy's support of them in the store, and the subtext, not thrown in our faces, but enough to show us that in this place and time they were not truly considered Americans, even though they were.

Some lovely light moments with Livy learning to drive the "beet box" and Ray trying to figure out how to operate the claw, and just the right amount of tension at the end with Florie's foolish decision and the imminent birth of Livy's child converging at the climax of the story.

And there were some parallels to "Jericho" as we went along. Livy, the minister's daughter, as Heather is supposed to be, arriving in La Junta by train, as Jake did in Denver in the opening scenes of the pilot (and the "main street" of La Junta looking just a little like downtown Jericho).

Livy writing letters to Edward that (until the end) go unanswered, looking for love in the past and not finding it, while the future is standing right in front of her and she doesn't see it at first. I thought of Jake, and Emily (his past), and Heather (hopefully, his future).

Ray, carrying the guilt of his brother's death at Pearl Harbor just as Jake bears his burden over the little girl in Iraq (and who knows what else), standing at his brother's tombstone, echoing the scene of Jake at his grandfather's grave in the "Jericho" pilot.

And the key moment of dialogue, the one that brought me to tears.

"I don't know if I deserve you. How do you know this can work?"

"Because, someday ... you're going to forgive yourself."

That could just as easily be Jake's question and Heather's answer.

Beautifully shot (in Alberta, if I read correctly), magnificently scored, and might I add, Keri Russell is a lovely actress and has matured nicely since the girl who followed what's-his-name off to college in "Felicity." Like Heather, Livy shows a woman's heart.

Well, I guess I've written my review after all.

Ladies, I am with you.