This is a slight variation on the old tried-and-true formula:
boy meets girl. Boy and
girl fall in love. Boy and
girl have a falling out. Boy
and girl get back together. The
variations are in the trials and tribulations in between.
Liam Page (Alex Roe) and Josie (Jessica Rothe) grew up together in
a small town in Louisiana, where everybody knows everybody.
Which means everybody showed up for their wedding.
Except Liam. He bolted.
Turns out heíd just recorded his first country song, and it was a
hit, and the promoter wanted him to tour, and write more songs, and pretty
soon the road became easier than facing going home again.
He never even returned her phone call.
Though he did keep the message on his old phone, and listened to it
Fast-forward eight years. Liamís
got his own private jet, an entourage, adoring fans, and an obliging
personal manager who will arrange for the chosen groupie to be in his
hotel room that night. Heís
famous, all right, but heís flaming out on the excess of partying and
lack of moral compass. And
thatís when he hears on the television that his boyhood friend was
killed in a car crash. And
suddenly he knows he has to go home again.
Except that home isnít exactly how he left it.
Everybodyís changed, especially their attitude toward him.
But the biggest shocker is that Josie has a daughter whoís seven
years old. Yep, Liam is still
sharp enough to do the math, and realizes thatís his daughter heís
meeting for the first time. Billy
(Abby Ryder Forston) is short for her age, but precocious.
We all know where this is headed.
But itís not exactly easy getting there.
Josie is understandably not ready to pick up where they left off.
But itís Billy who charms everyone into overcoming their guilt
and their grudges.
Thereís several flaws in the movie, just as there are in the
characters. Theyíre not
consistent with the way Liam is mobbed by fans in some public places and
goes unrecognized in others. And
the little hometown is like a bubble where the outside world canít come
in. Billy talks a lot like an
adult and almost never like a child. Liamís
brooding seems more like posing.
But there are things to like about the movie, as well.
Liamís Dad, Pastor Brian (John Benjamin Hickey) is a realistic,
relatable minister, a rare positive clergy role in a contemporary film.
The musical scenes are pleasant without being overpowering or
parodying. And, of course, the
theme of forgiveness and second chances is something we could all use
sometimes. Even when we
donít deserve it.