Film Review: Amish Romance "Love Finds You In Charm" with Trevor Donovan and Danielle Chuchran

Film Review: Amish Romance “Love Finds You In Charm” with Trevor Donovan and Danielle Chuchran

I know it’s a little odd for me to be reviewing a film like this, however, I read the book, Love Finds You In Charm, a few years ago never thinking it would one day become a film, and I’m posting now as a blogger, not a publisher writer. There’s a difference, and I always make that clear here on the blog. My reading taste in fiction runs anywhere from Jonathan Franzen, to James Franco’s abstract fiction, to Debbie Macomber “porch swing” romances. Over the years I’ve posted reviews on all of them, including J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. In fact, I rarely ever read anything in the genre in which I write anymore.

With that said, the general premise of the film, Love Finds You In Charm, revolves around a beautiful young Amish woman, Emma, who begins to question her life in the Amish community, with the young Amish man who wants to marry her, and whether or not she can live such a narrow existence. She reads Jane Austen in her barn and dreams about another life. She’s not sure exactly what she wants, but she knows she wants to find out if there’s something different out in the world. So her father sends her to Charm, Ohio, where she spends the summer with relatives.

Once in a while a book or film comes along that captures the setting perfectly…with feeling. I’m often disappointed when that doesn’t happen, especially with an Amish romance. I have been known to cut across six lane highways after spotting a sign for an Amish farm market, especially if it’s in the fall and there are pumpkins, mums, and homemade cheese. In this case, Love Finds You In Charm doesn’t disappoint. It actually was filmed on location, in Charm, Ohio, and the setting is portrayed in such a brilliant way you find yourself daydreaming about actually living there. I live in Bucks County, PA, with a lot of equestrian farms and farm markets. But in the fall they don’t grow the pumpkins here. They fill a farm with pumpkins from California and let people pretend they are picking them. There’s also a strong New York and Philadelphia influence and we often lose a lot of the original charm of years ago as a result. We’re kind of “quasi country chic,” with million dollar town homes and condos on the river. I didn’t see that in this film. I saw the kind of farm life authenticity that takes the viewer away to a world with which they aren’t familiar. Pure comfort and escapism.

When Emma arrives in Ohio, on a train that looks as much fun to ride as any farm market is to visit, she immediately meets a young man named Noah, played by Trevor Donovan. If you have followed Donovan’s career over the years, which I actually haven’t, you’ll know he’s known for playing a variety of parts and characters. This time, as Noah, Donovan filled the strong hero part perfectly, and you can see that clearly by the expression on Emma’s face the instant she steps off the train. There’s also nothing vulgar or too intense about it. The portentous scene where they meet is plain and simple, and it shows the beginning of what we hope will be an interesting relationship. Without giving any spoilers, Noah is the beginning of what might become an interesting adventure for Emma. The kind that she’s been reading about in Jane Austen books.

It’s the little things in a book or film that create the intensity of the “romance” for me. In this case, there’s a scene where all it takes is Noah putting a sea shell up to Emma’s ear and telling her it’s the ocean. Or when he raves about her cheese-making skills and wants to know “the secret ingredient.” By that time I wanted to know what it was, too. Again, all done with simple gestures and poignant lines that create the kind of romance we don’t see often anymore in films.

However, this isn’t about the cheese. The story goes much deeper than Emma’s relationship with Noah. While she’s working at one of the most wonderful farm market’s I’ve ever seen, she befriends another young woman who is also rethinking her life, but as an “English” woman, not Amish. I once posted a guest post by an Amish man who lives in a place just like Charm, and I’ve kept in touch with him since then. I’m not an expert on Amish life, but I’ve learned that the Amish refer to anyone who isn’t Amish as “English.” In any event, Emma finds a few things in common with this other young woman who is questioning her own life, which also adds a little drama to the story I didn’t expect to see…and Noah becomes even more of a hero. 

Then there’s a handsome young guy who works as a food blogger who comes to town and runs into Emma at the Farmer’s Market. He tastes her homemade goat cheese…chèvre…and loves it so much he wants to do a feature on her in the food blog. It’s also evident that he’s interested in more than Emma’s cheese and Noah’s not too thrilled about that. This is all done with subtle comments, glances, and expressions, which you never have to question once. And it’s hard to predict what the ultimate outcome will be even when you reach the middle of the film. I don’t usually mind it when I can predict the ending of a film or book…as long as it’s happy ending. But in this case I really did find myself wondering how it would all wind up. 

If I were to continue I would no doubt wind up adding spoilers and I ate it when reviews do that. I think that’s shabby reviewing and it ruins something special for those who haven’t seen the film or read the book. However, from the wood cutting scene where Noah slams that log with all his brute force, to the scene where Emma just stares at him with glazed eyes, I found this to be one of the fastest films I’ve seen in a long time. Back in the 1980’s there was a wonderful, classic book titled, “Cold Sassy Tree,” by Olive Ann Burns. Burns died right after the book was published. They adapted the novel to film, too. And that’s what Love Finds You In Charm reminded me of in so many ways, yet completely different. It’s one of those movies you can keep on DVR and watch many times in the future with people of all ages.

The film is being aired on UPTV, Uplifting Entertainment, and here’s a link to their web site with more information. It originally aired on June 7, 2015, and they aired it again last night. I don’t know much about UPTV but I would imagine they will be airing it again sometime soon. I also did a simple search and it looks like you can watch it online, too. I’m not posting links because I’m not sure if those web sites are legal or not, and with my own experience with book pirates I don’t like to take those chances. But if it’s not online yet, I’m sure it will be soon enough for those of you who read this blog in the UK and other countries.


 

Love Finds You In Charm; Gay Slut-shaming; Louis Tomlinson and Gay Shame: James Franco’s Album

 Love Finds You In Charm

That’s actually the title of a new Amish romance film coming out, Love Finds You In Charm. And when I spotted this link on Twitter as a “teaser” on vimeo I thought I’d share it with my readers. The interesting thing about Charm…and there really is a Charm, Ohio…is that I have a few Amish friends who only live a few miles away. Most are readers who have found creative ways to read e-books in private. I actually do receive quite a few e-mails from Amish men all over the east coast who are curious about the “English” and gay life. It’s always very discreet and I always learn something new.

In any event, I kept getting first hand updates while they were filming Love Finds You In Charm from a few locals in Ohio, and to be honest they aren’t always fond of films like this. In fact, they often feel the same way about Amish films and books done by non-Amish the same way gay men feel about books and films done by non-gays. I really don’t know enough about that to comment.

But I find most Amish films entertaining and the message behind them is all about love and romance…even though I know intellectually it’s all embellished. Love Finds You In Charm might be the exception to the rule. I won’t know until it’s released.  I apologize to anyone Amish ahead of time if you find this offensive. My intention is not to offend you.

You can view the teaser here. It’s stars Trevor Donovan, an actor who played a gay role in 90210. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the video clip. It was filmed on location in Charm, Ohio and the scenery is spectacular.

Gay Slut-shaming

For anyone who doesn’t know, this is what slut-shaming is in a general sense, with respect to women. The article to which I’m linking now talks about gay slut-shaming, with respect to the four worst things gay men say to shame each other.

The most obvious is “You’re a Slut.” This part of the piece talks about how some gay men will judge each other based on sex habits…or how much sex one might be having. I’ve heard it a million times in passing whenever I’m with a large group of gay men (which is why I often try not to be in large groups with gay men anymore). There’s a standard, or protocol, that’s set and the “gang” always seems to go along with it. Middle aged gay men of lower rent origin always change the pronouns, as in…”She’s such a slut.” Tony and I once parked at a beach in Provincetown and  found ourselves sitting behind two of the most vicious gay men in the world. They slut-shamed everyone on the beach so harshly, always changing the pronouns from he to she, I actually forced Tony to get up and move as far away from them as I could.

Another example talks about shaming with dating apps, and there’s one that talks about shaming with the Peter Pan syndrome. They’re all on target, but the number one is shaming with respect to HIV. I can tell you first hand because I’ve been POA for a friend with HIV that most gay men either ignore those who are HIV, or they talk behind their backs with some of the worst comments possible.

This is the big one. HIV is a significant barrier for many people who try to understand the gay community, and it accompanies the greatest stigma. Most of us probably have at least one friend or acquaintance who has HIV. Have we asked them about living with HIV? Have we asked them what it’s been like? Have we asked them how they feel? This is the most terrible reason that gay guys shame one another.

We shun those who have it, we use unfortunate, misleading language when we remind others that we’re “clean” in our social networking profiles, and yet we still live in a society where unsafe sex is common. How can any of us chastise an entire group of people who are HIV positive, but fail to slip on a condom ourselves? Newsflash: we are not invincible. Practise safe sex, and don’t shame those who have made the mistakes we’re all prone to make from time to time. The vast majority of us have at one point or another taken the same risk while being sexually active. There is an enormous disparity in the way the gay community treats those who are HIV positive.

Gay men will never ask each other how they feel, or what it’s been like. If you want to see a group of middle aged gay men disappear, mention HIV. At least that’s been my personal experience. It’s unspoken, and I know two middle aged gay men who are HIV and they have never once discussed it openly in all the years I’ve known them.

You can read the rest here. It’s a good article and spot on in every respect.

Louis Tomlinson and Gay Shame

After The Independent published an article about One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson’s alleged support for Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Tomlinson went on a full fledge Twitter rant denying he’s gay because that’s how he allegedly perceived the article. In his strong public denial he only came off looking as if there’s something inherently wrong with being gay. It’s so common for straight men to do this they don’t even see it as an issue.

But Louis saw it differently, and wasn’t too pleased with the article. He took it as being called gay by The Independent, though the article never speculates his sexuality, only his support for Tim Cook.

You can read the rest here. It’s not an in-depth story and I’m only posting about it because I like to create awareness about the fact that even if you aren’t gay there’s nothing wrong with someone thinking you are. Gay should not be synonymous with shame.

This tweet from the journalist who wrote the piece says it all:

That being called gay should never be insulting & that standing up for #LGBT rights is an admirable thing to do…

James Franco’s Album

Although I reviewed (and loved) James Franco’s novel, Actor’s Anonymous, with five stars, I sometimes get annoyed with his attempts at self-promotion. But he’s great at it…self-promotion…to the point of being a genius, and he never actually stops pushing his own personal boundaries in spite of who he might be offending. In this case he’s releasing a new album, and most are claiming it’s not that bad either. I actually do like it, at least from what I’ve listened to so far.

The almost annoyingly busy renaissance man is now coming out with an album, of course. The band is called Daddy, and in typical James Franco fashion, instead of pop beats and silly unrequited love stories, we get lyrics like, “The love life of the octopus, groping and grabbing.”

You can see a clip of the music video here. The comments are very entertaining. There’s some gay slut-shaming examples at the bottom. You don’t have to go too far to find these things.

The Sweetest Apple by Ryan Field
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