The last time I reviewed a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film was last August, when I wrote about Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery. To make up for that, I thought it made sense to review one of the network’s newest titles. As of February 2022, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries only has two new mystery releases; Cut, Color, Murder and Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder. Like the title of this review says, I’ll be writing about Cut, Color, Murder! For years, I’ve been waiting for Hallmark to create a movie that revolved around pageants. Sure, I received Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream back in 2015. But the pageant in that movie played such a minor role in the overall story. I’ve also heard some of the network’s series have been cancelled, such as Picture Perfect Mysteries, Hailey Dean Mysteries, and Matchmaker Mysteries. So, the idea of a new series is exciting! But is Cut, Color, Murder worthy of the crown? Let’s solve this mystery by starting this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The chemistry among the cast: In most of my movie reviews, I talk about specific acting performances. But this time, I’ll be writing about the chemistry among the cast in Cut, Color, Murder! Within Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ movie series, the chemistry and camaraderie between the characters has been a consistent component. This is especially true when it comes to the network’s newest mystery film! At the beginning of the movie, the protagonist’s sister, Chelsea, is concerned about an upcoming college tuition payment. After the protagonist, Ali, suggests working on pedicures at the salon in order to make extra money, Chelsea sarcastically responds to her sister by saying, “I’ve seen some of those women’s feet. I’d rather drop out”. The interaction I just described came across as realistic, like a conversation two siblings might typically have. This is because Julie Gonzalo’s and Grace Beedie’s acting talents complimented one another. At a restaurant called ‘The Jackson’, Ali and Chelsea have lunch with their mom and some of Ali’s co-workers. Their conversation during this meal revolves around Chelsea possibly joining the Miss Golden Peak Pageant. In this scene, each character is presented with their own unique personality. Ali’s co-workers play a specific role at the salon, as each one volunteers to help Chelsea on pageant day. The way these characters interacted with one another feels like a family, with each member giving Chelsea their love and support. Interactions like this one feel genuine and believable because of the cast’s acting strength!
The banter: A component that can make or break a film is the banter among the characters. With Cut, Color, Murder, the banter was one of the strongest aspects of the overall production! While at the aforementioned restaurant, ‘The Jackson’, Ali meets Golden Peak’s newest detective, Kyle Crawford. During their initial interaction, Ali makes educated analyzes about Kyle’s background based on her observations about him. The way these analyzes were delivered was sharp and precise, showcasing the strength of Julie’s acting abilities and the screen-writing. Kyle takes Ali’s words in stride, as Ryan McPartlin, the actor who portrays Kyle, remains consistent in his performance. At the salon, Ali talks with Golden Peak’s resident officer, Fred Wright, about new develops in the film’s murder mystery. As they exchange details with one another, their banter sounds like an exciting game of ping-pong! Both Julie and Fred Henderson, the actor who portrays Fred Wright, are quick with their line delivery, with each actor effectively meeting with other at their level. The screen-writing also helps with the strength of Ali and Fred’s banter!
How the subject of death was handled: When a mystery story revolves around a murder, death is going to be one of the story’s overarching themes. In the case of Cut, Color, Murder, I’m referring to how the movie’s creative team handled the subject of a deceased spouse, which was unrelated to the movie’s main mystery. During the film, Ali reveals how she lost her husband, Dan, in the line of duty. Whenever this subject was brought up, it was spoken by the characters with a serious tone in their voices. But it was also brought up with a sense of reverence and respect. At two points in Cut, Color, Murder, Ali visits Dan’s gravesite. She has conversations with him as if Dan was sitting right next to her. Ali does try to move forward from Dan’s passing, as his death took place two years prior. Ali decides to move forward on her own terms and she doesn’t receive any negativity for visiting Dan’s gravesite. With the strong acting performances and screen-writing, Ali’s gravesite visits and the characters’ reactions to Ali’s grief felt realistic. The inclusion of Dan’s passing also emphasized how death can impact a community and the people within it.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A limited insight on pageantry: When I discovered Cut, Color, Murder would take place during a pageant, I was excited to see the world of pageants shown through a Hallmark lens. While I did receive some insight into this particular industry, I was left desiring more. It was interesting to see how local businesses and aspiring professionals were affected by a pageant. But other aspects related to this subject felt surface level, such as squabbling pageant mothers. The majority of the story focused on the mystery itself. Because Ali’s sister was the one entering the Miss Golden Peak Pageant, the pageantry in this story felt like a subplot. Looking back on this film, it makes me wish the story had been set in the pageant world, instead of being a bystander to it.
An unclear setting: The majority of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ movie series take place in a small town. While this is true for Cut, Color, Murder, I was unsure where this story took place. For about half the movie, I was confused over the story’s location. When I first saw the salon Ali works at, I thought the story took place in New York City. Because Fred Wright consistently wore a cowboy hat, I then thought Ali’s town was situated in Texas. Before realizing the owner of ‘The Jackson’ shared the restaurant’s name, I also thought the town was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. At the film’s half-way point, I learned Ali, her family, and her co-workers lived in Idaho. Despite receiving this knowledge, the setting didn’t feel like Idaho. In fact, it looked and felt like any other small town from any other Hallmark production.
Few interactions with Ali and Kyle: A lot of mystery films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries feature a male and female protagonist who eventually form a romantic relationship. In the case of Cut, Color, Murder, these protagonists are Kyle Crawford and Ali Bowden. Since it’s unknown at this time if this movie will lead to a series, it’s unclear if Kyle and Ali will come together as a couple. But compared to other Hallmark Movies & Mysteries projects, these characters didn’t spend much time together. Their limited interactions mostly took place in a professional context, whether at the police station or while crossing paths interrogating suspects. Unprofessionally, Ali and Kyle stayed in their own worlds and focused on their own careers. I liked the on-screen chemistry between Julie Gonzalo and Ryan McPartlin. Because of their short amount of time together on-screen, however, I don’t know how this chemistry is going to work in a long-term series.
My overall impression:
As the saying goes, “put your best foot forward”. This can apply to any movie, television, or book series. From what I remember, most of the series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have not only put their “best foot forward”, but have also presented a collection of films I enjoyed watching. Like I said in my review, it’s unknown at this time if Cut, Color, Murder will lead to a series. But if it is, the movie certainly was a strong start to a potential one! This film gave the audience a variety of suspects, providing many possible directions to the final outcome. Sometimes, clues were discovered through the characters’ dialogue, which showcased the unique inclusion of some of these clues. Cut, Color, Murder displayed other strong qualities, such as the banter and chemistry among the cast. The work of salon employees hasn’t often been featured in Hallmark films. Depending on who you ask, this work can also be seen as important. But as I said in my review, I wish the story had been set in the pageant world. While watching Cut, Color, Murder, I kept thinking how different this story/potential series would be if it had been from Chelsea’s perspective. Come to think of it, Chelsea’s perspective would have made the story a little more interesting. But what will also be interesting, though, is what will happen if this story receives a second chapter.
Overall score: 7.5 out of 10
Have you seen Cut, Color, Murder? Would you like to see this movie become a series? Please let me know in the comment section below!
Have fun at the movies!