Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Magic of Ordinary Days (2005)

I'd watched this film a year or two ago and back in February watched it with my sister for the first time and we both loved it! Get ready for a super sweet story with endearing characters set around World War II. The Magic of Ordinary Days made its CBS debut on January 30, 2005.

Story: Adapted from the story by Ann Howard Creel, this Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation is set in rural Colorado in 1944. After she becomes pregnant by a departing soldier, Livy Dune, the wealthy, pampered daughter of a Denver minister, is forced to forever abandon her hopes of becoming an archaeologist.  To shield her from further scandal, Livy's father ships her off to a remote farm and arranges her marriage with shy farmer Ray Singleton, who is struggling to live up to his proscribed responsibilities to the wartime government. Clearly depressed by the situation, Livy does as well as she can to be polite and civil to her husband and his sister Martha, but it is clear that she'd rather be dead than married to a man she doesn't even know. For Ray's part, he is unfailingly generous and kind, but the realization that Livy doesn't want him makes him feel more inadequate than ever. But when Livy makes friends with a couple of well-educated Japanese girls living in a local internment camp her very life might soon be at risk as prejudice runs high. Will Livy learn who she can trust and find that sometimes the ordinary days can be magical?

Costumes: Livy has the most amazing dresses, so pretty and feminine and perfectly 1940's - a new favorite period film wardrobe! Some of the other ladies have lovely dresses too. The gentlemen's clothes are perfectly fitted for the time period and fits in with their personalities.

Scenes: Filmed on location in Alberta, Canada so it's not quite Colorado, but the farm scenery is lovely and the wide prairie land stretches as far as the eye can see. There's also a few lake scenes that are quite picturesque. The scenes at the train station, in the town and inside the houses are all in keeping with the time period and are light and airy, setting a nice tone for the film.

Music: I don't remember a lot of the music but there is one really fun dance scene in the film that will have you smiling and the family and friends enjoy celebrating a birthday. There might be a few other songs from the era, everything is in keeping with the time period.

Actors & Characters:

  • Keri Russell as Livy Dunne - She's made mistakes in her past but owns up to her responsibilities and obeys her father by marrying Ray. She is spirited and determined, investigative and adventurous but with a kind heart. The story is mostly told through her perspective and we grow attached to her as much as Ray and the other characters do. Keri Russell is beautiful and captures the character very well.
  • Skeet Ulrich as Ray Singleton - What's not to love about Ray? He's hardworking, generous, kind, open to new ideas but a little shy and slightly troubled by hard circumstances in his past. He goes out of his way to be nice to Livy and show her that he's always going to be there for her. An amazing hero of the story and Skeet Ulrich did a wonderful job portraying him! 
  • Mare Winningham as Martha - Ray's friendly and outgoing sister who warmly welcomes Livy. Her family is full of life and love and set a good example for Ray and Livy of what they could become if only they'd try. A great character!
  • Gwendoline Yeo as Rose & Tania Gunadi as Florence "Flory" - These two Japanese American sisters are a lively pair that remind me of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility! Rose is thoughtful, sensible and bookish while Flory is outgoing, fun-loving and a real sweetie. Their outfits are as lovely as they are. Their scenes are such fun!
  • Stephen Strachan as Hank - Martha's husband who is hardworking but with a quirky sense of humor. He's a good father to their daughter and young sons.
  • Katie Keating as Ruth - Martha and Hank's young teenage daughter who immediately forms an attachment to Livy and copies her hair styles and wardrobe choices as much as she can. She's very sweet and a bright spot in the family.
  • Jane McGregor as Abby - Livy's stylish and carefree sister who comes to visit. She encourages Livy's bad choices but can be fun. 

My Thoughts: When I first watched this film I was a bit worried about the plot element of Livy being pregnant out of wedlock but it's not mentioned a whole lot and when it is Livy herself admits that she was weak and only looking for someone to love her. Ray is such a gentleman and quite excited about the prospect of becoming a father, promising to love Livy's baby as his own. Their story is so very sweet and engaging with awkward moments and it makes me tear up every time! It's nice to have a film where there's no whirlwind romance but a deep abiding love that grows in the ordinary everyday moments. The story reminds me a bit of Love Comes Softly and someday I'd like to read the book this film comes from.

Recommendations: Besides Livy being mentioned as pregnant out of wedlock and one slightly scary situation with a Japanese American refugee toward the end of the story, The Magic of Ordinary Days is suitable for family watching. It's a sweet film and I highly recommend it!
This film was released on DVD but it's fairly pricey so I recommend checking with your local library, watching it on Hallmark sometime or watching it on YouTube like I did (see my playlist here).

If you're interested in this film you can watch the trailer here. You can also watch The Making of The Magic of Ordinary Days (beware of spoilers!). I also have a board on Pinterest full of lots more photos from the film (some spoilers in that too!).

Have you seen The Magic of Ordinary Days

Who was your favorite character?


Simply Shelley said...

Going to be looking for this one...thanks so much for sharing....blessings

Mary Beth said...

I so love this movie! I read the book last September, but sadly, I wouldn't recommend it. The first half was well-written and enjoyable, but the second half went into to much detail concerning how Livy became pregnant (I found myself skipping whole chapters!) and even the writing seemed "cheap". One of those rare instances in which the movie is better than the book!

As for my favorite character....Ray! :)

Livia Rachelle said...

This film was adorable. The clothing was stunning and Ray was soo unbelievably sweet. My sister and I watched it with friends a several years back and I think I watched it with my mom a year or so ago...and she was crying for most of it!

Kara said...

Your review is spot on! This is such a lovely story. Quiet and gentle (most of the time anyway) and just so sweet. Ray is a wonderful man. His gentleness and care for Livy was beautiful to watch in my opinion.

And I love Rose and Flory! I hadn't connected them to the Dashwood's before, but that's a fabulous comparison.

One of my absolute favorite movies. I never get tired of it. :)

Katie Wegner said...

One of my favorite movies, nothing really exciting, just simple and good. :D

Ivy said...

I saw this movie when it came out on tv. I remember how lovely (and sad at some times) it was. Ray is so sweet and I came to really like Livy as the movie went along.

Marie said...

Very intrigued the movie is better than the book (Referencing above commenter)
Keri Russell kinda gets on my nerves though. LOL

JessicafromWI said...

I have to agree with Mary Beth. I saw the movie a few years ago and thought it was a charming story. I loved the way their relationship formed over several months. I decided to read the book and was surprised to find that I liked the Livy and Ray in the movie much more than how they were depicted in the book. I won't ruin the ending for those who are reading the book, but the situation with the girls from the internment camp ends differently as well. I liked the way the movie tied up those ends better. All in all, I would say that it is a very nice movie and is worth a viewing!

Hamlette said...

At first, your description of this movie made me kind of go, "Okay, too mushy for me, I'll move on." But then I got to the cast list, and my brain left mental skid marks. Skeet Ulrich? Okay, I'm definitely going to try to watch this on YouTube at some point. He's such a fine, underused actor. Thanks for the heads up!

Kathleen Wentworth said...

Hmm...this might require a trip to the library or Barnes and Nobles! :) This seems like a sweet film...



Mom Wald said...

Thank you for this lovely review. Now I only hope that I can find it.

Miss Elizabeth said...

I love this movie so much!!! It is such a sweet story; I could watch it over and over again. Ray is so handsome and caring. :)

Ptfb Smith said...

My favourite characters are the two dear old ladies--sisters--from the church. They are Joyce and Jackie Robbins

"How'd you meet?"

weren't they priceless?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if anyone knows the name of the song that Livvy and Ray danced to at Martha's birthday party? What a happy toe-tapping tune! Would love to know what it is and who plays it, if anyone can help out with that information. Thanks so much!

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