THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS is a lovely Hallmark Hall of Fame movie which I enjoyed watching again, for the first time since it originally aired in 2005.
Unmarried Livy (Keri Russell), a minister's daughter, conceives a child with a soldier during WWII. As the movie opens, Livy arrives in a small Colorado town for an arranged marriage with Ray (Skeet Ulrich), a shy and lonely farmer with a big heart. When the local minister approached Ray about Livy's predicament, he agreed to marry her, sight unseen, because he felt the marriage might be God's will. Livy has agreed to the marriage so that her child won't be born out of wedlock, as the baby's father has not answered her letters.
The educated Livy struggles to adjust to a quiet life in the country, but as time passes she comes to value the love shown to her by Ray, his family, and the community. Ray is a kind man who goes to great lengths to make Livy happy, and Livy ultimately realizes that she loves Ray and is glad to be his wife.
It's a simple and somewhat predictable tale, told with great beauty. The dialogue is outstanding, and even more is communicated in this film with looks and body language. This is a visually gorgeous film, in terms of the landscapes, the set decoration and costumes, and the characters' actions towards one another. Little touches, such as the fresh flowers awaiting Livy in the bedroom of her new home, convey much about the characters without the need for dialogue.
The entire cast is excellent, particularly the three lead actors. Russell made this film a couple of years before her well-received movie WAITRESS (2007). She takes the viewer through Livy's journey and remains sympathetic even when she is slow to let go of the past and embrace her new life. Ulrich might just steal the acting honors for how much he conveys without the use of dialogue; it's a touching, deeply felt performance. Veteran actress Mare Winnigham, whose first TV-movies were the wonderful YOUNG PIONEERS (1976) and YOUNG PIONEERS CHRISTMAS (1976) nearly three decades previously, gives a marvelous performance as Ray's loving sister, Martha.
The supporting cast includes Stephen Strachan as Ray's brother-in-law and Katie Keating as his niece. Gwendoline Yeo and Tania Gunadi play two former students from the University of Southern California who are living at a Japanese internment camp near Ray and Livy's farm. Ken Pogue plays the Reverend Case, who marries Ray and Livy, and Jane McGregor is Livy's selfish sister.
THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS was directed by Brent Shields.
The movie was adapted from a novel by Ann Howard Creel. My older daughter enjoyed the book; I haven't read it yet.
THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS is available on DVD, which can be purchased for about $20 at many Hallmark stores. At present it's only available on Amazon from vendors; click on this Amazon page to indicate interest in a wider reissue. The movie is not available for rental via Netflix so Hallmark is probably the best option to purchase the movie. Tracking it down is well worth the effort.
THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS is an outstanding, uplifting film of a caliber which would have deserved theatrical release in an earlier era. Very highly recommended.