Friday, January 01, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Christmas in Montana (2019)

The New Year is off to an excellent start with my first movie of 2021, CHRISTMAS IN MONTANA (2019) from the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.

I really enjoy Colin Ferguson, who previously appeared in the channel's FIXER UPPER mysteries, and he's well teamed here with  fellow Hallmark veteran Kellie Martin.

Martin plays Sara Bradley, a Los Angeles financial analyst assigned to help a struggling Montana rancher, Travis Carson (Ferguson), come up with a business plan which will allow him to qualify for a loan.

Sara's employer sends her to do a site visit shortly before Christmas, and she takes along her daughter Chloe (Ava Preston), since she's on Christmas break.  Sara has been a single parent to Chloe since her husband's death four years earlier.

Travis is a charming man who is more than a little obsessed with Christmas.  It's challenging for Sara to pin him down to talk business since he's wary of any recommendations which will involve laying off his longtime staff or charging for things like the Christmas trees he gives away to his neighbors each year.

Sara struggles to come up with a solid plan while also feeling a growing attraction toward both Travis and his Montana lifestyle.  As a single parent she's very focused on her job and a potential promotion which allow her to provide Chloe with security, but Montana and Travis are increasingly appealing...

First, though, she needs to complete her assignment and figure out how to turn around the ranch's finances in a way which will satisfy both Travis and the loan underwriters.

There was so much I loved about this film, starting with a strong, well-constructed script by Julie Sherman Wolfe.  It flows beautifully, with natural dialogue and realistic situations.  Sara's boss (Rob Stewart) calling her with concern due to something he noticed about her trip via her daughter's social media account made particular sense in today's environment.

I also loved the bit of a wink with the audience when Chloe comments on the plethora of hot drinks she and her mother are offered in multiple scenes.  I'd just been thinking it was a nice but obvious way to communicate the town's warmth and hospitality, but having what was happening acknowledged by a character onscreen actually served, in a funny way, to make it more realistic.

Beyond the script itself, Ferguson and Martin are both real pros when it comes to line deliveries, taking ordinary dialogue and infusing it with a little something extra.  Ferguson in particular made me think of how George O'Brien had a knack for bringing more to his "B" Westerns than was on the page, often ending scenes with added bits of business or an unexpected line delivery, carrying audience interest forward into the next scene.  The actors sound natural, yet at the same time they say their lines in unique ways.

Martin is interesting as someone who seems a bit shy on the surface, but underneath her quiet demeanor she's a driven, confident businesswoman who is comfortable putting her cards on the table, so to speak.  The only thing which might be unrealistic is how frequently Travis lures her away from working on financials.  But he is a charmer so...

And how nice is it that Hallmark is happy to run movies with relatively "mature" leads, in this case in their mid or late 40s?  It also benefits Hallmark having very experienced actors -- who additionally can probably afford to hold out for top quality scripts.

Sara's ultimate idea and future were both somewhat predictable, but in the best way.  I liked that this film was relationship and family focused but with very little angst, as the couple's business and personal relationships steadily move forward.

Ferguson and Martin are well supported by Preston as Sara's daughter, Art Hindle as Travis's dad, and Victoria Snow as the owner of the B&B where Sara stays.

I thoroughly enjoyed this 82 minutes and would happily watch it again.

The movie was directed by T.W. Peacocke.  Ontario, Canada, stood in for Montana.

This film has been released on DVD.  It's one I'm likely to pick up in the future to be sure it's at hand whenever I want to revisit it.


Blogger Net - "It's a Wonderful Movie" said...

Laura, I so enjoyed reading your review of “Christmas in Montana.” 🌲

I just gave this movie another rewatch, and I found it to be just as warm and inviting. I too love Colin Ferguson! He is such a sweet guy on screen. Like you, it’s one I thoroughly enjoy each time I watch it!

🎉Happy New Year to you and happy movie watching too!🍿📺

Blessings, Net

2:25 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, Net. I loved hearing your thoughts on this movie. "Warm and inviting" is a great description. I'll definitely be enjoying this again in the future.

With thanks for all the great Hallmark info you provide at your site -- Happy New Year!

Best wishes,

8:49 PM  

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