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Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: It is a story of a family who survive and try to move on from a loss which parallels the life of the Trumpeter Swans very closely. Photography is amazing and brings you the green and lush forest to life in front of your eyes. But for the last 20 mins the movie is a gem to be not missed.
Away & Back is a 2017 Hallmark Hall of Fame romantic drama production starring Jason Lee, Minka Kelly, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Jaren Lewison and Connor Paton in the lead cast. Directed by Jeff Blecker, and produced by a plethora of Producers as such movies go, the main story was written by a married couple Johan Lisa and Stephen Dyer
Jack Petersen (portrayed by Jason Lee) is a widower raising his three kids – Frankie (portrayed by Maggie Elizabeth Jones), Kyle (portrayed by Jaren Lewison) and Stretch (portrayed by Connor Paton) – on his land that has a natural reserve attached that he owns. Ginny Newsom (portrayed by Minka Kelly), an ornithologist, enters their lives to save the trumpeter swans that migrate to their lands.
Film opens up to a simple story about a hard working man raising his kids alone, suddenly ripples are formed creating bonds unexpected and healing closed wounds. Although the film is really slow to begin with, you need to give it a bit time for you to get swallowed into it. It is narrated by Frankie all thru the film for key important frames.
Jack might be laid back and quiet and so might be Stretch, although he is working towards competing in a motor cross, while Kyle forms the glue between them. The burn in the movie lies with Frankie and Ginny, who are spunky, stubborn and spitfires. However, the heart of the film are the Trumpeter Swans; and the ache and effort to save them and help them migrate.
The irony is not lost in how the lives of the Trumpeter Swans mirrors the lives of Jack and his family. Just like The Flying Falcon, the male Trumpeter Swan loses his mate, so does Jack. Out of the five eggs only three survive just as Jack has three kids. Alone and forlorn The Flying Falcon raises and teaches his three cygnets just like Jack. And in the end he also finds a new mate just as Jack and Ginny get married.
It was a perfect movie and every bit charming and heartwarming right until the last 20 mins of the movie. That’s when it bothered me a lot. A young child going off on her own without letting anyone know to save a swan who perhaps is hurt somewhere in the wild. She could have encountered so many dangers from nature and people alike. And further more when found Jack and Ginny actually praise her for sticking to her plan to save the swan.
No one admonishes her or even disciplines or sets rules for future. All the panic the child generates in the town and in the family is just blown off like a poof. That didn’t sit well with me. The difference between passion and stubborn and outrightly being foolish at the cost of your life is not explained to the child at all.
This is not a typical Hallmark movie with their standard formula. There is no big city heroine returning to her home town to fix something or help someone or take shelter from a problem in the big city, meet an old flame making her consider her current relationships, have an almost kiss, an accidental misunderstanding, and get it all resolved by the last 5 minutes of the movie.
This movie comes with some real insight into how Audubon Society people and all those ornithologists and nature scientists work towards protecting our natural reserves for the endangered species to flourish and encourage them to grow.
It is a story of a family who survive and try to move on from a loss which parallels the life of the Trumpeter Swans very closely. Photography is amazing and brings you the green and lush forest to life in front of your eyes. But for the last 20 mins the movie is a gem to be not missed.