Just What is the Message Here?
Even though his body was never recovered, Danielle’s husband has been declared dead by the military. His jet was shot down in the middle of a large sea. Even if he survived the crash, there is no way he could have reached land. It was fully investigated by military intelligence and it was determined that there is no hope he survived. A young mother of an 8-year-old, she has turned the corner on her grief and has gotten engaged to her husband’s best friend, Pierce, who has been an unfailing support and a second father to her daughter. Her daughter wants her to tell her stories about her dead father to help her remember him. As Danielle starts to recount her history with Colby, her husband, she starts to see things (another soldier who resembles him, something he said repeated, a lost ornament found, etc.) in real life. Danielle sees these as signs that the universe is telling her to slow down with Pierce. She thinks that Colby might still be alive. She begins to have second thoughts. She goes to the base commander, the father of a good friend, to get a better grip on the situation. He lays out all of the whys and wherefores of why he couldn’t possibly have survived. She is convinced, but the “signs” keep coming. She just can’t shake her doubts off. This negatively impacts her relationship with Pierce and they finally break it off, breaking the wonderful wonderful Pierce’s heart who is played by lovely Steve Lund whom we never hear from again. The night before the dance she sees breaking news that 4 POWs have been found and will soon be coming home. She goes to the base commander for more info, but he tells her he already checked and that the POWs were all “foreigners.” There is no chance. She goes to the dance, and there is her husband bathed in a misty light, fit as a fiddle, looking for her. What the What?! Is it a dream? No. It’s not. The family is reunited.
Words just fail me (not really). But where do I begin? Is there any military-related entity or person that this movie didn’t hurt or offend? It makes the base commander and military intelligence look incompetent. Not necessarily for declaring him dead when he wasn’t, although that certainly didn’t earn them any points, but for the misinformation about the POWs being foreigners, killing Danielle’s hopes yet again. And then the recently rescued POW just shows up a day later, all alone, with no warning at a Christmas dance? No hospitalization? Debriefing? No communication to the next of kin? No support or even acknowledgment of him or his widow? No press? Did he even check in with his superiors when he escaped from Yemen? Did he just teleport to the dance?
It insults POWs. This guy shows up out of the blue after being in captivity under brutal conditions, not only unscathed physically or mentally but looking like he has been spending those 3 years at Club Med taking full advantage of the gourmet meals and the fitness facilities. When Danielle asks how he survived, he responds that he just thought about his family and their love. Oh Really? So any ex-POW who died or actually suffered physical and/or mental damage just didn’t love his family enough?
This movie is a slap in the face and potentially harmful to any military wife who has suffered the tragedy of losing a husband but is trying to move forward and build a new life. Stay in the Past! Don’t believe anyone in authority that tells you your husband is dead! If there isn’t a body, there is still hope, no matter what! Pay no attention to the facts or the insights and good sense of other women who grieved for their husbands but have found peace and happiness with a new partner in life. Any coincidence is a sign from your dead husband trying to tell you he is still alive! No, I don’t think any woman in a similar situation as Danielle will take this movie seriously, but Hallmark put this scenario out there thoughtlessly with no regard for people who have rightly been told there is no hope even if a body has not been recovered.
It is insulting that Hallmark thought they could just conjure up a happy miracle out of absolutely nothing in the last 5 minutes of the movie and think their viewer’s hearts would be moved. Hey Hallmark, your viewers have brains too. And one more thing. Do not cast the wonderful Steve Lund in a movie where he does not get the girl. I venture to guess that that is not going to fly with 95% of your viewership. It certainly didn’t with me.