Taken to the unknown Western lands of America by her husband Aaron, Marty Claridge doesn’t know what to do when her husband dies in a tragic accident. Alone in a strange land, she accepts the offer of a widower named Clark Davis to marry him for convenience until she can go back home to the East. As she struggles to cope with her own loss and deal with Clark’s spirited daughter Missy, who is still dealing with the tragic loss of her mother, Marty slowly realizes that she will miss the Davis home when she has to leave. She will have to decide what will prevail—her heart or her head.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
For the most part, Michael Landon Jr. knows what he’s doing when it comes to production. This was during the heyday of Fox Faith and Hallmark, and it is easy to understand what set inspirational semi-Christian films like this one apart from movies in its genre before it. The video quality is clear and outside scenes are filmed well. The camera work is professional. Care was taken to make the surroundings and props authentic to the time period. However, the musical score is stock and the editing is just average. Too many events take place off screen, things that could have set this movie apart from other romances. But in the end, the production is likely this film’s greatest asset.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Adapted from the first novel of Janette Oke’s famous series, Love Comes Softly is an intriguing plot. This film is likely the most accurate to the original story of the whole movie franchise. A marriage of convenience plot is not that uncommon, yet it was common for the frontier settlement time period. Other authentic historical factors are captured. The dialogue is good, but not great, but the characters are at the very least believable. But with a simplistic commonly used plot, character deepening is greatly needed. Unfortunately, Love Comes Softly, though it had the runtime to accomplish this, did not do it. This is why the plot comes out of just average.
Acting Quality (1 point)
This was a small cast and was far better than many Christian film casts of the time, but it still was plagued with errors. Some characters (as we will see later from Michael Landon Jr.) are too done-up for the time period, i.e., too much makeup and manicures. But compared to later, Love Comes Softly was great in this area. Yet other problems remain. Only two or three actors are truly good. Katherine Heigl and Dale Midkiff are okay in their roles, but they needed refining. Once again, in a small-scope, simplistic plot, acting is essential, and this cast was only marginal.
Love Comes Softly marked the beginning of an era for Michael Landon Jr., Hallmark, and popular author Janette Oke. Oke captured believable, seemingly common historical characters in her novels and brought them to life for audiences to enjoy. However, the film franchise did not necessarily do this. Love Comes Softly is a strong enough beginning and demanded stronger follow-ups. But if you are looking for a well-produced, semi-typical Christian romance, this is the film for you, and you will not be disappointed.
Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points