31 January 2005

TV Review: "The Magic of Ordinary Days"

Keri Russell, everyone's favorite college girl of the 1990s, plays a different sort of college student in The Magic of Ordinary Days. She plays a graduate student during WWII who finds herself in the family way and is married off by her father to a simple farmer, played by Skeet Ulrich. The plot itself is familiar to anyone who has read more than one romance novel. It is about a marriage of convenience that turns into a true marriage as husband and wife grow closer through a series of trials.

Since the plot is well worn, the only thing that makes it worth watching is the cast. Sweep back Keri Russell's hair and she immediately becomes the model for a 1940s face cream ad with no trace of "Felicity" to be found. Skeet Ulrich shines as her husband Ray, a strong silent type who wants nothing more than to please his new wife. Mare Winningham plays Martha, Ray's older sister, who knows Livy's situation but doesn't judge her for it; she just wants her brother to have happiness. I like Ms. Winningham and there wasn't enough of her in this movie for me.

The story plods along despite an attempt to inject some excitement. This was done through a subplot involving Livy, two Japanese women from an internment camp, and a escaped German POW. I felt the whole thing was totally unnecessary, especially the internment camp. Although it was historically accurate to show it, I don't think the internment camp should have been included in the story if the subject wasn't going to be given the full attention it deserved.

Overall, I liked this movie. It wasn't a bad thing to have in the background while I got some knitting done. It was treading on Sarah, Plain and Tall territory, and it doesn't stand up well to the comparison. But really, it would take a lot to live up to the performances of Glenn Close and Christopher Walken. It should be showing up on DVD soon, but I wouldn't add it to my NetFlix queue unless I was running low on stuff to watch.

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