A Long Winded Christmas Journey
Having watched many if not all of the movies based on the Janette Oke's "Love Comes Softly" series of stories when I sat down to watch the two part "Love's Christmas Journey" I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for. Here we have an innocent, wholesome little western drama which as I have mentioned in other reviews of this series is akin to "The Waltons" and as such the focus of this and the other movies is on both the innocence and the wholesomeness as well as a few mentions of faith. As such if you spot "Love's Christmas Journey" and are drawn purely because you see that it mentions Christmas be warned because this like the other movies in the series is all about the nicety.
Now "Love's Christmas Journey" is a 2 part movie which watched as a whole runs to just short of 3 hours, but trust me this is not some 3 hour epic. In fact and to be honest this is one of my gripes is that for what drama there is it does feel incredibly drawn out and I wonder if when they were making it they realised what they had was too long for one movie and not enough for two so padded it out so that they could deliver it in two parts. And as such, because there seems to be a fair bit of padding there isn't a huge amount of story but more than in any other adaptation from an Oke story.
Now as to the storyline well the intro gives us Elle (Natalie Hall) who is struggling with the loss of her husband and daughter, still haunted by the bad dreams of when they were taken from her. As such she has decided to spend Christmas with her brother Aaron (Greg Vaughan) who is the single father to two children. It is whilst staying with Aaron that she meets Deputy Sheriff Michael (Dylan Bruce) who takes an interest in her and young Erik (Bobby Campo) who is fond of the Mayor's daughter but has to deal with people thinking he is bad because his father was a criminal. This leads to Erik being accused of a crime he didn't commit revolving around the plans for the railroad, plans which local businessman Mr. Weaver (Charles Shaughnessy) is interested in as he owns plenty of land around town. Talking of which Aaron having decided to retire from being Sheriff heads off to buy some land near his home but doesn't return when he should leading to plenty of drama in the lead up to Christmas.
Now that probably sounds like there is a lot going on and maybe technically there is but because everything is quite simple and "Love's Christmas Journey" lasts almost 3 hours it ends up feeling drawn out, meandering for long periods of time as it sets up all these stories and repeating certain aspects to make sure we understand. It is frankly annoying because the first part of "Love's Christmas Journey" doesn't really do much other than establish all these stories and the relationships between the various characters. But then in fairness whilst "Love's Christmas Journey" does at times feel a bit long winded it does bring everything together during the second part to deliver the feel good, wholesome and uplifting ending you expect. As such whilst "Love's Christmas Journey" has all these stories going on it really is more about delivering a slice of wholesome drama rather than anything else.
It's because "Love's Christmas Journey" is all about that feeling of innocence and good things happen to good people that you kind of end up ignoring the slim characters and weak acting. I'm sorry but for me, even for a movie all about being nice, there is far too much picture perfect smiling going on and it ends up becoming annoying. But as I said after a while you end up ignoring the annoying aspects and just enjoy the drama unfolding be it Elle trying to prove Erik's innocent or Aaron being rescued by the mysterious Nicholas. And that brings me to the fact that "Love's Christmas Journey" has Ernest Borgnine in the cast, well it is a small part which comes during the latter half of the 2nd part and frankly is the best performance in the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Love's Christmas Journey" to be totally honest is a bit weak which comes down to the simple fact at just short of 3 hours it feels drawn out. But even so it delivers everything you expect from an adaptation of a Janette Oke story and if you want some old fashioned wholesome drama for Christmas then "Love's Christmas Journey" will do it.