Raised by her new family, Belinda Tyler is now ready to set out and make a life for herself, even though the culture she lives in frowns upon women pursuing professional careers. She is finally and begrudgingly allowed by the local doctor to assist him in a small role, and she gets a ‘big break’ one day when a wealthy yet elderly woman has a stroke in the middle of town and is confined to bed. Belinda becomes her nurse and physical therapist, but that’s not the only task on her mind—a young lawyer has come to town to ready some inherited property for sale, and the two of them clash over their views of women’s roles in society. Little do either of them know that their carefully chosen paths are about to be altered forever.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
Another unnecessary installment in the Love Comes Softly series, another quasi-inspirational director. The story of Unfolding Dream’s production is much like the latter installment. The video quality and camera work are solid. The sound quality, however, is sometimes inconsistent. The historical surroundings are fairly well done, but they are obviously limited in scope, as the same sets are used excessively. As will be discussed in depth later in this review, the costuming and makeup are particular horrible in this film. Finally, the editing is uneven, pasting stock scenes together in an attempt to create a movie. In short, there is really nothing new here—at this point, the saga settled into average production quality and awful plots and acting.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
Though Michael Landon Jr. returned to the writing department, things did not improve. It cannot be understated that the original intent of Janette Oke’s work has been completely abandoned and replaced with a shallow inspirational ‘plot’. ‘Plot’ is relative because a collection of random empty sequences depicting silly stereotypical frontier characters is not a true storyline. Characters go here and there, from one place to the next, with no real plot flow. Dialogue is very hollow, thus forming plastic characters. The “excuse for Drew to go to the doctor” device is highly overused. While discussing the roles of frontier women is an interesting topic, it cannot be properly appreciated in the context of this film. The only other thing that keeps this plot from being zero is the intriguing underdeveloped subplot between Belinda and Mrs. Stafford-Smythe. Yet there are also other useless subplots shoved into the storyline, likely to increase the movie’s runtime. Therefore, less than a full point must be awarded here.
Acting Quality (0 points)
It doesn’t really get any worse than this. From exotic frontier hairdos to extravagant makeup to fake country accents, the overall acting quality barely escaped negative points. The continued commitment of Dale Midkiff and Erin Cottrell to this franchise derails it. There is no acting coaching employed; too many supporting characters come off as robotic. Due to the poor acting, the audience cannot relate to these characters.
As the saga slugs on, it becomes increasingly apparent that the writing team didn’t have that many ideas. Rushing up and forcing new romances and courtships into every new movie demonstrates lack of creativity and borderline obsession. The question must be asked again: was the original Janette Oke plot really so bad that this was used instead? We think not, and would advise future novel adaptations to do their best to stay faithful to the original story, unless they can find a way to improve it.
Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points