This month the people at the Hallmark Hall of Fame Company have decided to drain all of our tear ducts for us. What better way than to have a movie featuring Betty White as a war widow waiting and hoping that some day her Navy pilot husband might return? That is the central plot line of the new TV movie The Lost Valentine.
White plays Caroline Thomas, a widow whose husband was reported missing in action in the war while she was pregnant with their first child. She had gone with him to the train station one year after they were married and seen him off to war. The last thing she gave him was a homemade Valentine which expressed her undying love.
Each year thereafter she went to the same train station to remember that last day. She has gone on with her life but she has remained true to her husband. This testament to love comes to the attention of a network programmer and he suggests that reporter Susan Allison (Jennifer Love Hewitt) do a special show on it.
Susan pursues the story, which Caroline is at first reluctant to do, and seeks the help of Caroline's grandson Lucas (Sean Farris). Susan has a boyfriend but she finds herself being more and more attracted to Lucas.
While this is all taking place the viewer gets flashbacks to the young Neil (Billy Magnussen) and Caroline (Meghann Fahy). We see their happiest times and their saddest. This sets up the power of the later scenes of Caroline's heartbreak.
White is the draw to see the movie. Everyone knows how good she is at comedy. She has had a career resurgence with her appearances on various TV shows as well as Saturday Night Live. This movie allows audiences to see her dramatic side and if her grieving widow can't break your heart, nothing can.
Hewitt is also good as the investigative reporter. She is a beautiful woman and a talented actress. Still in this film it is Betty's show all the way and Hewitt is just along as window dressing.
The story is entertaining and engrossing but it has two big flaws. The first is that it has too many plot lines going at the same time. There is the forties love story between Neil and Caroline. Then there is the modern love story between Susan and her current boyfriend Andrew and her possible boyfriend Lucas. And finally there is the modern day story of Caroline's quest to find out what happened to her husband. The Susan/Andrew/Lucas situation is one plot too many and it separates the story rather than making it cohesive,
Secondly the movie does now know when to end. It has at least three different endings or two possible endings and one real one which is the weakest of them all. When you watch the movie you will know what I am talking about in this regard.
Still this is a movie absolutely worth seeing for the beauty of White's performance and the awareness it raises about those who sacrificed so much for us all. The Lost Valentine makes us remember and hopefully be thankful.
The Lost Valentine premieres on CBS, Sunday, January 30 at 9PM.