(Also, this post is seriously screen cap heavy. Just so you know. Consider ye’ve been duly forewarned. ;))
The official summary’s not tremendously great and (to avoid spoilers and since the plotline itself is fairly simple) I won’t go into a lot of detail, but here’s for my own short summary: During WWII, cultured, well-educated Livy Dunn becomes pregnant out of wedlock and then engages (at the behest of her father) in an arranged marriage with Ray Singleton, a young farmer in a small rural community. The conflict then unfolds around their growing relationship -- slowly developing on a truly daily level; entwined too with the lives of two dear friends of Livy's and also a young POW.
Just how skillfully that’s all woven together and comes flashing out in the climax never fails to surprise and delight me. Incidentally, I’ve also seen the extras and they’re pretty good. It’s always nice when they interview the actors on set in costume; and the major actors all seemed fairly type cast, too -- which is fun.
Before we get into some of the reasons I love it, given the premise (and because it’s something I personally would have really liked having before I first watched it), I’ll note exactly what it does and does not have content-wise so you get an idea of how they handled all those potentially iffy things.
First off, there are no dressing scenes, no ‘bedroom’ scenes, and NO flashbacks (as in flashing back in any way to the father of the baby). Once Livy’s at the farmhouse, it shows her waking up in her room a couple times wearing a very modest, sleeveless nightgown. It shows when she goes into labor (i.e. there’s evidence of her water breaking) and there are several gentle kisses. That’s it. :)
The dresses etc. are gorgeous, but I have so many things to highlight on that front that I’m splitting all my thoughts on it into another post, which should be coming along shortly! (Edit: you can now see Part II here. :))
With a relaxed and leisurely pace, the storytelling throughout is incredibly understated. It always amazes me how so many of the plot points seem vaguely immaterial (i.e. like the installation of the telephone) and then all of a sudden -- like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle -- every last thing is smoothly and perfectly in place, somersaulting into the pounding intensity of the climax.
Speaking of the climax itself, Livy is so smart there! (No extreme spoilers), but I’m always agog at how fast she thinks on her feet – managing all the pressure and emotions involved and figuring a way out of the mess without leaving a single trail anywhere. It's brilliant, I tell you.
And I love how the whole running theme of learning how to be a true and loyal friend comes flashing out -- pulling everything powerfully and perfectly together.
Along with this, the contrast between the two sets of sisters is excellent: with one older sister blithely enticing her younger sister to live for herself, look out for herself, etc. -- and then another older sister wisely foreseeing calamity yet still determined to stand by her sister, seeing her all the way through to the end.
The second pair of sisters here. Flory (the younger sister in pink) is sweet and fun and bubbly.
While Rose is so lovely and caring and straightforward and gracious.
(Rose actually reminds me a LOT of one of my very dearest friends. :) Except my friend’s the married one with a houseful of beautiful and very busy small children. ;))
I also love how Livy’s whole transformation is distilled down in her treatment of Franklin -- with her initial hesitancy and following disgust all the way to caring for him and finally eagerly hauling him round as a safeguard.
As to the dialogue…
Often running with tension, it’s straightforward and full to brimming with exactly the things you would actually say.
Ordinary, everyday words speaking of raw hurt and pain. Words strong and sometimes fumbling, dealing with the daily things like seedtime and harvest that are part of life and keep carrying on regardless. Plain words speaking of life, with all its brokenness and wavering hesitation. Plain, strong words speaking not ‘of’ life, but life itself -- with a love that’s willing to step into the trenches and get more than its hands dirty.
Livy’s fears, her agonized longings, her uncertainty, her frustration, and then her final response to love are all poignantly and vividly rendered.
Ray’s gentleness is often highlighted (which is absolutely as it should be), but what always strikes me, too, is how just he is.
Just in the Biblical sense.
He does what Joseph did (with the hefty and important exception, of course, that Mary wasn’t really in the position she seemed to be in, and also Mary and Joseph did actually seem to love and desire each other, but -- you know -- from the point of view of gossiping society at large).
Joseph was given divine revelation and Ray decides to marry because he felt it might be God’s will; upright men stepping into a sweltering situation that was none of their doing. And what’s more, assuming all the potential blame, shouldering it. Which could gall a man’s pride. But it’s done without hesitation.
He covers her completely. It’s love. Real and tangible and rock hard and solid.
And in stepping in -- in winning her, wooing her in spite of herself -- he also, of necessity, opens himself up to vulnerability -- to hurt.
But he does it anyway.
And he is hurt. And in that hurt, finally opens her heart and eyes.
It's absolutely beautiful and amazing.
For me, this movie took a while (quite a while), but -- still undeterred and very much in keeping with its character -- it quietly and insistently worked its way into my very tip top favorites. It’s one of those stories that gets into you. And I love it to utter bits and pieces!!
Tell me! Have you seen this movie and what did you think?
(Reviewed for Rose’s 40’s Week and Miss Laurie’s Period Drama Challenge 2016.)