Stephen Lang in A Season of Hope (1995)

Bitter/Sweet Lemons

For Michael Hackett (Stephen Lang) his lemon groves are everything and he sweats blood and tears every day tending to his trees. It is why it hits him hard when part of his crop has to be burned to the ground due to an infection which could hit other farmers across the valley. What also upsets him is that his eldest boy, Mickey (Jeremy London), wants nothing to do with the grove, couldn't care if it is destroyed and just dreams of getting away from the place. To make things more confusing is the re-appearance of Michael's estranged father Sam (Ralph Waite) who cleared off 30 years earlier having not wanted anything to do with the Lemon grove either. Caught in the middle of all this tension is Michael's wife Elizabeth (JoBeth Williams) and their youngest son Tyler (Erik von Detten).

"A Season of Hope" is the sort of movie that when you have been around the made for TV block a few times will recognize where it is heading before the first half hour is up. As a movie reviewer it also makes it hard to really review because the parts of the movie are so familiar. As such we have Michael who resents his absent father, works hard to keep the lemon grove going and expects his son to do the same because he tells him so. But then we have the son who wants to live his own life rather than the one his father wants him to have. And then we have the grandfather who shows up wanting to make amends for having cleared off for 30 years having received some bad news. As such we have bonding, air clearing, forgiveness and of course working together to try and save the grove.

Their is some thing else which "A Season of Hope" has and that is Elizabeth struggling with family falling apart and her husband becoming increasingly absent which leads her to become attracted to a handsome nice guy who shows up. The thing is that it isn't enough to make it the sort of movie which commands your attention as even the various revelations end up pretty text book. Even the casting, which is good thanks to Stephen Lang and Ralph Waite, can't breathe life into the familiar storyline.

What this all boils down to is that "A Season of Hope" is an okay movie but it is also a familiar movie with some routine drama around a farmer on the verge of losing his land whilst mixing in some father, son, grandchild bonding.