TV film review: Love Comes Softly (2003), directed by Michael Landon Jr.
Marty (Katherine Heigl) and her husband Aaron (Oliver Macready) are on their way from the big city to build a new home in the rolling countryside of 19th Century USA. They don’t seem to have been married very long, and they perhaps don’t know a whole lot about the whole frontier life, but they’re happy and they have each other.
Until Aaron is thrown off a horse, cracks his head on a rock and dies.
What to do? All they have is a covered wagon, there’s nowhere to go and winter’s coming. There won’t be any wagon trails until the spring. How fortunate that a kind widower, Clark Davis (Dale Midkiff), should happen to offer a solution!
His daughter, tomboyish Missie (Skye McCole Bartusiak) needs a woman’s touch, and Marty needs a place to stay for the winter. Marty can marry Clark (it’s the proper thing to do) and then she can always go with the wagons again in the spring. There’s no time to think about it because the priest is only in town for another day and then he, too, will be gone for the winter.
Marty and Clark marry, Marty tries her darnedest to win Missie over, and you know exactly what’s going to happen, because it’s storytelling 101, happy ending and all. And I liked it. Had it ended any other way, it would have been such a let-down.
Despite the “Faith & Values Media” title at the beginning, it wasn’t nauseatingly religious. It got dreadfully faith-sappy at times, but on the whole, it wasn’t too preachy.
Missie did a good job at being a surly child who’s still grieving over her mother. You can see her keep pushing Marty away, and you know why, just like you know that she’ll eventually come around. I liked Heigl as Marty, who took a huge risk in putting her grief aside to marry a stranger just to get a roof over her head.
What was most surprising was Clark as a character. What a man! He doesn’t force his new wife into anything, she gets to sleep in the same room as Missy, and he’s in fact mortified when he discovers her taking a bath one evening. There’s no “well, you’re my wife, and a man has needs, ya know” or anything, just a nice man doing a noble thing like some goshdarn Prince Charming. You’ll love Clark, he’s such a sweetheart that you can’t not love him.
Which is fine if you’re not already smitten with the actor. If you already belong to the “Dale Midkiff, aww HELL YEAH!” club, be aware that this film is not going to cure you of any crush you might have on the poor guy. In fact, it’s likely to become a lot worse. That’s my humble opinion as someone who finds the man exceedingly aesthetically pleasing, at any rate.
Film-wise, it’s cute, I have always kind of enjoyed the setting (I grew up watching and reading Little House on the Prairie) and they haven’t exactly gone easy on the landscape shots here. United Statesians, you have remarkably beautiful nature. Treasure that and make sure it stays that way, because it’s positively breathtaking.
All in all, even though it was predictable, it was just the sort of romantic escapism I’m a sucker for, AND Clark is adorable, handsome and all around dreamboaty.
4 out of 5 pink dresses. Happysigh.