Our rating: 5 out of 5
reviewed by Rissi C.
Over the six films based on Christian author Janette Oke’s bestselling series, the Hallmark Love Comes Softly series has been one with mixed emotions for me; first there was delight at Michael Landon’s production, vision and actors, then came mild disappointment until finally outright displeasure for the changes made to the book. This latest adaptation brought genuine pleasure once more, as one cannot help loving the stubborn impetuous grown-up Belinda and the smart city bred Drew Simpson, but also frustration.
Having been adopted by the loving Missie and her second husband at the end of Love’s Unending Legacy, Belinda Tyler (Scout Taylor-Compton) is now a well educated young lady who couldn’t be happier; she’s no longer a shy afraid girl, but a mature woman who has the big dream of becoming a doctor, something her family supports but the town doctor shies away from, thinking a woman has no business attempting a man’s profession. Not one to be discouraged, Belinda continues to believe in her dream, which may seem all the closer when she gets the opportunity of caring for a wealthy women who had a stroke while passing through their town. Putting her medical knowledge to use for the cantankerous Mrs. Stafford Smith (Nancy Linehan Charles), Belinda finds her dream threatened by the arrival of a young lawyer, Drew Simpson (Patrick Lewis). Confused as to how her life will turn out, Belinda must choose to follow her head or her heart. With the help of her loving grandparents (Dale Midkiff, Samantha Smith) and a well-off widow, Belinda just may gain all and more than she ever imagined of her unfolding dream.
With its sweet storyline and non-existent content, this film makes for a wonderful family movie night, but for those of you that remember the books, I’m afraid I must again report that this varies greatly from the novel by the same title. For one reason or another (despite the changes), I’ve found myself pleased when I discovered this adaptation. This is probably in my top three and far surpasses some of the others. As long as I wanted true adaptations to the novels, I was going to be unhappy, and so I choose to look at them as more independent stories than based on the books. A few quick changes that were made and notably so were various characters missing, a tragic accident, and the combining of three novels in the plot line. With such compacting, one has to wonder if this will be the last in the series. Most of the screenplay is completely different than the original novel, but dialogue has been greatly refined, which makes it easier to understand.
For the last three films there hasn’t seemed to be
any true sparks between our leading man and lady, but in
Love’s Unfolding Dream there is something; it's not so much passion
as just a sweet romance that isn’t given enough screen time due to the
film's limited length. Taylor-Compton and Lewis are both decent young
actors and gave a positive screen appearance while such veterans of this
series as Midkiff turned in another stellar performance, being exactly
how I’d picture the patriarch of the large
I would recommend this film, as well as the whole series. Most don’t have superb acting, but each has an underlying theme involving God and we know they don’t acknowledge anyone but Him; Belinda credits her faith in God for the way she’s turned out and flatly refuses to believe anyone can overcome grief without knowing Him. This film still begs many a question as to missing previous characters, but unfortunately all remain unanswered. Inaccuracies aside, Love’s Unfolding Dream is a lovely little film about family, faith and love. The scenes are sweet (note the scene by the stagecoach near the end) while managing bouts of comedic quips, the story as faithful as can be in its time slot and Michael Landon has once again made an overall delightful family based movie.