I was looking forward to this film. Indeed, I made sure it was at the top of my `Netflix' queue. Unfortunately, it was the one that got away. Soon there was a very long wait. People are no doubt drawn to this film because they are longing for simple, good entertainment. Perhaps they first saw it on `The Hallmark Channel' and wanted to see it again. It's not all that great of a film, but it is worthwhile anyway. That needs an explanation, so bear with me. It certainly is easy to watch. I think great film or not, it goes down easily and becomes a casual pleasure. The subject matter is interesting even if the whole affair becomes no better than a lite (or, "light") version of 'The Horse Whisperer'.
The story is the basis for a romantic culture clash. Jordan Donovan (Teri Polo) is a photographer from New York City. She's tired of the typical treadmill of romance. In both aspects of her life she is trying to break through. Her arty exhibits of (literally) garbage fail to spark interest for a sponsor of photography exhibits. Meanwhile, her love interest, Edward, has been dating her for years, but refuses to make a commitment. Her roommate, Carla, (Christine Tucci) is presented like a half-funny, but easily as likable Rhoda. She plays matchmaker by signing her up for `Cowboy Connections,' a magazine with a "Personals" column designed to hook up couples out West.
All too neatly, Carla has taken the liberty of not only putting her friend's name in the magazine, but writing her background and answering any prospects that come to her. On Jordan's birthday, she not only has a man, but a plane ticket for her to join him at his ranch in Wyoming. Cynically, she, nevertheless, does what most people would do at the prospect of adventure: She accepts both as a present.
Even more neatly, Tyler Ross (Andrew McCarthy) has a doting sister named Laurie (Patricia Kalember) who answers his personal ads for him. Jaundiced about dating again, he doesn't think much when she calls to tell him a woman from NYC is coming to his ranch. Something must stir inside him, for we discover earlier it is he who provides the plane ticket.
Her arrival is not a friendly one. Quickly, the resentment pours through: At breakfast he tartly announces that they don't serve "espresso" at the morning table. Later, when she's falls off a horse, he nastily chides, "I don't want some big city lawyer trying to sue me." She understandably doesn't allow herself to be a walking mat. She has some counter resentments to offer: going toe-to-toe she has plenty to say about cholesterol soaked breakfasts and his backward behavior. Yet, she has a background that he doesn't even consider, and as the movie unfolds, she has several opportunities to prove herself more than a typical city slicker.
Across the way former friend, Mr. Jameson, is brazen about trespassing on Tyler's land to capture wild mustangs for his own use. United Tyler and Jordan try to oppose his lawless horse trade while working out some terms of bitterness found in everyone's past.
Some of the appeal of the movie is the scenery. Mustangs rush past with autumnal mountain horizons while the pair take on the work of the land. The old-fashioned Western score by Mader is superb for the laid back adventure, and the tenderness of key scenes works its way incrementally as it goes along.
Pleasant, enjoyable, and easy-going like a trek to Wyoming itself, `Straight from the Heart' may not have the best performances, nor the most original dialogue, but it is still a pleasurable film trek anyway. While I thought throughout the "torn between two lovers" scenario Jordan deserved better choices, who's to judge about taste if a relationship has a chance to work? After all, sometimes even a two-star film is all we really need.
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