Film Review: Amish Romance "Love Finds You In Charm" with Trevor Donovan and Danielle Chuchran
I know it's a little odd for me to be reviewing a film like this, however, I read the book, Love Finds You In Charm, a few years ago never thinking it would one day become a film, and I'm posting now as a blogger, not a publisher writer. There's a difference, and I always make that clear here on the blog. My reading taste in fiction runs anywhere from Jonathan Franzen, to James Franco's abstract fiction, to Debbie Macomber "porch swing" romances. Over the years I've posted reviews on all of them, including J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. In fact, I rarely ever read anything in the genre in which I write anymore.
With that said, the general premise of the film, Love Finds You In Charm, revolves around a beautiful young Amish woman, Emma, who begins to question her life in the Amish community, with the young Amish man who wants to marry her, and whether or not she can live such a narrow existence. She reads Jane Austen in her barn and dreams about another life. She's not sure exactly what she wants, but she knows she wants to find out if there's something different out in the world. So her father sends her to Charm, Ohio, where she spends the summer with relatives.
Once in a while a book or film comes along that captures the setting perfectly...with feeling. I'm often disappointed when that doesn't happen, especially with an Amish romance. I have been known to cut across six lane highways after spotting a sign for an Amish farm market, especially if it's in the fall and there are pumpkins, mums, and homemade cheese. In this case, Love Finds You In Charm doesn't disappoint. It actually was filmed on location, in Charm, Ohio, and the setting is portrayed in such a brilliant way you find yourself daydreaming about actually living there. I live in Bucks County, PA, with a lot of equestrian farms and farm markets. But in the fall they don't grow the pumpkins here. They fill a farm with pumpkins from California and let people pretend they are picking them. There's also a strong New York and Philadelphia influence and we often lose a lot of the original charm of years ago as a result. We're kind of "quasi country chic," with million dollar town homes and condos on the river. I didn't see that in this film. I saw the kind of farm life authenticity that takes the viewer away to a world with which they aren't familiar. Pure comfort and escapism.
When Emma arrives in Ohio, on a train that looks as much fun to ride as any farm market is to visit, she immediately meets a young man named Noah, played by Trevor Donovan. If you have followed Donovan's career over the years, which I actually haven't, you'll know he's known for playing a variety of parts and characters. This time, as Noah, Donovan filled the strong hero part perfectly, and you can see that clearly by the expression on Emma's face the instant she steps off the train. There's also nothing vulgar or too intense about it. The portentous scene where they meet is plain and simple, and it shows the beginning of what we hope will be an interesting relationship. Without giving any spoilers, Noah is the beginning of what might become an interesting adventure for Emma. The kind that she's been reading about in Jane Austen books.
It's the little things in a book or film that create the intensity of the "romance" for me. In this case, there's a scene where all it takes is Noah putting a sea shell up to Emma's ear and telling her it's the ocean. Or when he raves about her cheese-making skills and wants to know "the secret ingredient." By that time I wanted to know what it was, too. Again, all done with simple gestures and poignant lines that create the kind of romance we don't see often anymore in films.
However, this isn't about the cheese. The story goes much deeper than Emma's relationship with Noah. While she's working at one of the most wonderful farm market's I've ever seen, she befriends another young woman who is also rethinking her life, but as an "English" woman, not Amish. I once posted a guest post by an Amish man who lives in a place just like Charm, and I've kept in touch with him since then. I'm not an expert on Amish life, but I've learned that the Amish refer to anyone who isn't Amish as "English." In any event, Emma finds a few things in common with this other young woman who is questioning her own life, which also adds a little drama to the story I didn't expect to see...and Noah becomes even more of a hero.
Then there's a handsome young guy who works as a food blogger who comes to town and runs into Emma at the Farmer's Market. He tastes her homemade goat cheese...chèvre...and loves it so much he wants to do a feature on her in the food blog. It's also evident that he's interested in more than Emma's cheese and Noah's not too thrilled about that. This is all done with subtle comments, glances, and expressions, which you never have to question once. And it's hard to predict what the ultimate outcome will be even when you reach the middle of the film. I don't usually mind it when I can predict the ending of a film or book...as long as it's happy ending. But in this case I really did find myself wondering how it would all wind up.
If I were to continue I would no doubt wind up adding spoilers and I ate it when reviews do that. I think that's shabby reviewing and it ruins something special for those who haven't seen the film or read the book. However, from the wood cutting scene where Noah slams that log with all his brute force, to the scene where Emma just stares at him with glazed eyes, I found this to be one of the fastest films I've seen in a long time. Back in the 1980's there was a wonderful, classic book titled, "Cold Sassy Tree," by Olive Ann Burns. Burns died right after the book was published. They adapted the novel to film, too. And that's what Love Finds You In Charm reminded me of in so many ways, yet completely different. It's one of those movies you can keep on DVR and watch many times in the future with people of all ages.
The film is being aired on UPTV, Uplifting Entertainment, and here's a link to their web site with more information. It originally aired on June 7, 2015, and they aired it again last night. I don't know much about UPTV but I would imagine they will be airing it again sometime soon. I also did a simple search and it looks like you can watch it online, too. I'm not posting links because I'm not sure if those web sites are legal or not, and with my own experience with book pirates I don't like to take those chances. But if it's not online yet, I'm sure it will be soon enough for those of you who read this blog in the UK and other countries.