Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Movie Review: Heart of the Country

Title: Heart of the Country
Author: N/A
Genre: Romance, marriage, drama, Christian
My Rating: *****
Official Rating: PG (for mild thematic elements)
Age Group: 10+
Faith's husband Luke is thrown in jail for something he claims he didn't do. Hurt by his dishonesty, Faith runs back home to her father and her hometown. There, she grapples with family, love, and her marriage. Luke, bailed out of jail by his father, is stuck in New York dealing with the same things. A tragic discovery brings them back together sooner than they are ready for. Can Luke convince Faith of his innocence? And can Faith take him back?

Word of Warning:
This movie was so amazingly clean I feel strange even having this list. It's going to be filled with rather trivial things, compared to my most recent reviews. It's a nice change.
  • A brief passionate kiss between a married couple.
  • A man is wrongfully arrested (or so he claims).
  • Faith's mother passed away some time ago in an unnamed accident. We see brief flashbacks to her time in the hospital and the ambulance (all focused on her face). Faith visits her grave. The whole family misses the mother (understandably).
  • It is mentioned that a sister put hair remover in Faith's shampoo bottle when the girls were younger.
  • A wife complains that her husband doesn't change their baby's diaper, but it's more gentle teasing than angry complaining.
  • Liposuction is mentioned briefly, glossed over, and left unexplained.
  • A Luke leaves his family company, resulting in his father and brother yelling at him.
  • People drink, but do not get drunk.
  • Faith is blamed by Luke's family for splitting the family in two.
  • Faith recalls when Lee, as a little boy, burned ants in the parking lot after vacation bible school.
  • The phrase "livin' it up in New York" is mentioned but not explained.
  • A little girl declares that when she grows up, she wants to marry her father. He responds that her mother already did, but the girl can get married, and they can share a father-daughter dance, and she's satisfied.
  • Luke is in jail and it's hinted that he'll be there a while.
  • Faith wonders aloud if her marriage was a mistake. She says she married because she loved Luke but that they're good at the fairy-tale, not real life.
  • Faith claims her marriage wasn't working. She says she tried and she doesn't seem willing to keep trying.
  • Luke is threatened in jail by another prisoner. There is no concrete threat, just the hint of the prisoner possibly blackmailing Luke.
  • Luke's father is clearly angry with him.
  • Lee flirts lightly with Faith even though he knows she's married. At one point, when things appear to be picking up speed, he steps back and mentions Luke not as Luke, but as her husband (using the word "husband"). He buys her a gift but backs off when Luke comes after Faith.
  • In a flashback before their proposal and marriage, Luke and Faith are lying on a picnic blanket laughing. There is clearly space between them.
  • There are about four gentle kisses before the proposal, some right after each other, some not.
  • Heather remarks of her pregnancy, "Comin' whether we like it or not" but in a joking fashion and a happy smile.
  • Sisters "battle" over their father.
  • Divorce is mentioned but Faith firmly declares she is not going to get one.
  • When Lee (a doctor) gets to church just in time, Faith teases, "Must've been quite a night, hope you got her name" as he straightens his tie. His response is simple. The girl was six, died of a heart attack, came from a car accident. Faith is silenced.
  • Faith doesn't believe her husband when he insists he's innocent.
  • Faith's father was not at her wedding, nor has he met Luke before.
  • In a slightly dramatic scene, Faith's father is loaded into an ambulance.
  • A man has brain cancer but refuses treatment, saying his time is up and he's ready to leave.
  • Faith's sister complains that her husband never tells her he loves her, even though she knows he does.
  • Sisters bicker but clearly love each other. One remarks, "What's the fun in getting along too well?"
  • Maria (an old friend of Luke's) flirts with him even though he's married. She leaves her purse in his car so she can come to his house later and pick it up. She puts her hands on his chest and tries to kiss him.
  • Faith walks in on an awkward scene and is lead to believe Luke is cheating on her with Maria.
  • Faith says she doesn't want a divorce, but she's living hours away from her husband, won't talk to him, and has given up on her marriage.
  • Luke knew the people he was working for were doing criminal things but didn't speak up.
Good Points
This movie was carried by its good points, not the plot, which is why many of them deserve mentioning.
  • Faith's father. Is amazing. He sees his position as father of two daughters as protective and guiding. He warns Lee to back off when Faith is on thin ice in terms of her marriage. He goes to Luke to help patch up the marriage. He is determined to make sure Faith's marriage does not fall apart--but he makes sure she and Luke are the ones to put it back together.
  • Church on Sunday is shown at least twice.
  • Families. They are shown not as perfect, but as realistic and good. There is arguing and bickering, anger, frustration, and everything else. But there is always loyalty and forgiveness and open arms when anyone looks for them.
  • Luke tells Faith he loves her and would do anything for her. At first, this doesn't seem to be the case. But when he sees that Faith isn't going to come back to him, he goes to her, leaving his life and family in New York to join her in a small country town where they will raise a family.
  • Faith and her sister do love each other, even though they bicker. The same is true for Luke and his brother, though this one is not as obvious.
  • Luke tries hard to ignore Maria's flirting. When it's not possible to tactfully ignore it anymore, he yells at her and kicks her out of his house.
  • Luke, in an attempt to keep the family name clean for his father and for his own future children, resists filing a court plea. Eventually, he does admit to the truth, and his father supports him in this.
  • Luke tells Faith's father, "I never touched another woman. I was always faithful to your daughter" and that he did not commit fraud, as his accusers claim he did.
  • At the end of the movie, a pregnant woman and her husband are shown. She is speaking to her father, then the child, and her husband stands behind her, arms around his wife, hands gently caressing the baby bump until she takes them in hers.

My Thoughts:
If I were to judge this movie based on plot, it would get a terrible rating. Judged on plot points and how many leads were never followed, it would fall on its face. Seen from the perspective of filming (dramatic effects, flashbacks, angle, etc), it wouldn't do much better.
But I'm not judging it on that, because that's not what this movie is about. This movie is about reality. It's about families and how, even though they don't always get along, they're still there. It's about fathers who are there for their children even if they do not always agree. It's about marriage and its beauty. The entire movie is based on reality and its goodness, even in its broken state. And on that scale, it scores pretty highly.
The only disappointment was even though Christianity was present (attending church on Sunday), it didn't have much to do with how the struggle (particularly the marriage struggle) played out. Had Christianity been a main part of the struggle's solution, the movie would have been ten times better.
Which is hard to imagine, it being so good to begin with.

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