For The World War II Blogathon, I wanted to talk about a film that no one else had chosen. With this idea in mind, I figured that if anyone was going to review a Hallmark movie, I knew it was, highly likely, going to be me. More often than not, Hallmark Hall of Fame films have told cinematic stories surrounding World War II. Out of all the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies that would be eligible for this blogathon, In Love and War is one that I hadn’t seen. This particular film is based on a true story, using a memoir by Eric Newby as the basis for the cinematic narrative. Within the past five years, true stories are rarely found in Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations. Since this is the first Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I’ve reviewed that does feature a true story, I knew it would a treat for my readers and followers!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: More often than not, Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are known for having talented casts. In Love and War is no exception to this tradition! Callum Blue did a really good job portraying Eric Newby. With believability and versatility, his character was awestruck by the beauty within his surroundings, while not being fazed by reality. Callum effectively portrayed a soldier who hadn’t been too hardened by war and tragedy. I also enjoyed seeing Barbora Bobulova’s performance! She portrayed Wanda, the woman who stole Eric’s heart. Barbora had a very pleasant on-screen presence and flawlessly pulled off an Italian accent. She also used a wide range of emotions, making her character seem as realistic as possible. These are just some of the reasons why her performance was very memorable.
The scenery: The Italian countryside is the only location featured in this film. Despite that fact, the movie’s creative team used this environment to their advantage, especially when it came to story-telling. Even though war had cast a shadow on Wanda’s town, it never lost its quaint charm on screen. This picturesque setting showed that restoring peace in the world could be possible. Seeing the fields and farmlands in the film showed a different perspective of this particular country. When the Italian countryside is incorporated into cinematic stories, it seems like it is, more often than not, romanticized. It also makes it feel like this location can never be touched by the harshness of reality. In Love and War’s scenery was pretty to look at, but it also shows that no space is safe from such a catastrophic event.
The on-screen chemistry: Even though Callum and Barbora were not on screen together for very long, they did have good on-screen chemistry. Eric and Wanda’s relationship was very sweet, containing the amount of sentimentality that makes sense for a Hallmark production. Whenever they spent time together, these characters seemed to truly care about one another. Despite coming from two different backgrounds, their love for each other was able to help them find a common ground. Through communication and understanding, Eric and Wanda were able to learn about the other person as well as about themselves. Because Callum and Barbora’s acting performances were good, they were successfully able to bring these elements to their characters.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Low stakes: Throughout the film, Eric becomes a Prisoner of War and tries to escape from the clutches of the Nazis. However, all of the stakes in this movie felt low. When Eric and his team become prisoners, their situation doesn’t appear or feel harsh. Even when Eric did experience a harsh condition, the effects were temporary. The clear and present danger, which were the Nazis, appeared in the film when it was convenient for the plot. It seemed like Eric wasn’t in as much danger as the movie wanted us, the audience, to think.
An imbalance between peace and conflict: Hallmark films are known for containing a good amount of positivity and making their audience feel good about the film they’re watching. But because In Love and War largely focused on the movie’s more peaceful moments, it made the moments involving conflict seem sparse. This flaw contributes to the previous problem that I just talked about: lower stakes. It also doesn’t create a healthy balance between the two ideas. The imbalance between peace and conflict made the “war” part of In Love and War seem like a distant aspect of the story.
No action: Everyone’s story from the time of World War II is going to be different. Since the film’s story is about a member of the military who entered enemy territory, having no action in the film makes it feel like something is missing. Not only were there no battles, but there was no fighting in sight. The only scene that involved any amount of military action was when an enemy plane flew over Eric and his comrades. However, this scene ended up being very brief.
My overall impression:
The two most common cinematic stories surrounding World War II involve the American perspective and the Holocaust. While these stories are important, it can feel like other World War II related stories get overshadowed. In Love and War takes a unique approach to this subject, focusing on the British and Italian perspectives. Through these perspectives, interesting ideas get the chance to be expressed. Some examples are standing against group mentality, relying on the kindness of strangers, and changing a person’s way of thinking. As a film about this particular time-period, I liked In Love and War for what it was. At best, this is a decent movie that has its strengths. But, as a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, it didn’t leave as big of an emotional impact as other films from this collection have. I will say that this film is a good introduction to not only Hallmark Hall of Fame, but also to Hallmark movies in general. If someone likes a particular aspect of the movie, they will be able to find other Hallmark films that share similarities.
Overall score: 7 out of 10
What are your thoughts on World War II in film? Which Hallmark Hall of Fame movie do you like? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!