Heart of the Country (2013)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When faith-based films fall into the hands of the right filmmakers, there is a subtlety to their insights that can be incredibly moving. When they aren’t, it makes for a production that is disappointing and usually, awkward.

Like any small-town girl, Faith (Jana Kramer) left her southern roots behind to pursue a career in the spotlight. An aspiring musician, she heads to the lights of New York and plays small shows but instead of following her dreams, she meets and falls in love. Luke Carraday (Randy Wayne) is from a prominent, wealthy family, and marrying Luke means that instead of becoming a music star, Faith is instead in the tabloids on Luke’s arm as his new bride. Settling into life as a socialite, Faith’s world is tuned upside down when her husband is accused of insider trading at the investment firm he broke from his family’s business to join. Arrested and imprisoned for his alleged part in the scam, Faith is left without resources with their money is frozen which forces her back to a place she hasn't gone to in too long – home.

This movie surprised me. Going in, there were no real expectations for it which meant that as a viewer, I wasn’t sure what it’d be like. The story isn’t anything “new” (small-town girl sheds her past) however I liked how it unfolded; director and screenwriter John Ward took a few risks and dealt with some things I didn’t expect, yet it was all done without compromising the characters or making us dislike and/or question their attitude (which is discussed more later). Being only familiar with her work as a vocalist, I didn’t know what it’d be like to see Jana in a leading role. Fortunately she held her own; Faith is a good leading character even though her character has the misfortunate of falling into cliché reactions. Anyone who watches “Christian” films may also recognize Randy Wayne (To Save a Life) or Shaun Sipos from prior television series plus any classic TV fans are sure to enjoy seeing Gerald McRaney playing Faith’s father. The cast was surprisingly good, which leaves the production and story itself to chat about. If you want to hear about that, do pull up a chair. Thoughts on that are as follows.

As a “prodigal comes home” story, this works. The means by which Faith returns and eventually refuses to face her past are (as previously stated) stereotyped but then, what script isn’t. How Ward told the story ended up being a strength, starting things in the aftermath of the events surrounding Faith’s return and backpedaling to reveal the “why” through memories. Showing the story from this perspective offered a more emotional expectation plus added a bit of "mystery" without confusion. The quality of filmmaking in the movie was quite good also. Taking place in the southern country side adds some pretty scenery – especially a scene that involves Faith horseback riding – and there are also some really charming flashback scenes in the city, these scenes of Faith and Luke are precious. Faith’s view of love was clouded by what is commonly referred to as “the fairytale.” She met and fell in love with Luke at a point in her life when she looked at life through rose-colored glasses; she wasn’t in the best frame of mind to consider every aspect of marriage. There’s a line in the movie that reconciles this and sadly, it applies to many of the young marriages that too often befalls couples, much more than it should be!

The story is slow-moving at times and the subplots aren’t always explored as they should be (like the sister relationship), however at its heart, the movie is full of moments of familial sweetness and redemptive forgiveness. There is also a time for tears, yet what most surprised me was that even when things were looking bleak, the characters never caused us to doubt them; their actions may not have always been “right,” but even in their emotional confusion, they make a the better choice. I am not sure I’d brand this a favorite drama, however for anyone who enjoys Hallmark films, this was a sweet movie.

Have a look at the trailer:

(What to know: one character dies. A husband and wife accuse each other of lying and briefly a man is accused of cheating on his wife. The film is rated PG.)  


  1. Ooo I want to see this. Great review.

    1. It was a really sweet film, Juju! Hope you enjoy it, too. :)

  2. I really, really, really want to see this... I just heard about it a couple weeks ago and was like 'Hm, that looks pretty interesting!' It's funny to see you write a review on it right now! haha

    1. That is funny how that works out, isn't it, Raquel!? ;) Hope you enjoy the movie.


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