A Ring By Spring (2014)

Let’s face it, if some fairground fortune teller told me that I was to receive a ring by spring or never marry, I’d be in hot pursuit of that ring. But since I’d never go to a fortune teller, my hypocritical self thinks this whole idea is ridiculous – and while we’re at it, will Hallmark lay off on the romance every once in awhile and promote stories that don’t depend on the girl getting the guy, or the ring, for its happy ending?

I had hoped they might flip the script here because of a few things that happen late in the game, but I am a foolish child. With a title like this, of course Hallmark is going to deliver the only kind of ending it knows. And so here we are, beset with another story about a young woman who’s found great success in her career but not in love. Rachel Boston plays Caryn, a business consultant whose encounter with one Madame Rue (Stefanie Powers) leaves her scrambling in the run-up to spring. When the fortune teller’s prediction about Caryn’s friend, Stephanie (Ali Liebert), comes true, she suddenly feels pressure to get engaged. So she’s overcome with shock and some anxiety when her longtime boyfriend, Bryce (Chris Jacot), takes her out to a fancy restaurant to dump her instead of propose to her.

His reason, that she is not “marriage material” – that is, she doesn’t want to get married, hits her hard, and she scrambles through a catalogue of past relationships trying to figure out what went wrong. The film gives Caryn room for self-reflection, but she’s strangely rushed and thoughtless as she goes about it. There’s a lot of digging at the surface, and it always comes back to her lack of commitment, something that her exes are now totally cool with and don’t fault her at all for.

Part of the reason why I’m not on board with Caryn’s journey is Boston’s performance. I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that I don’t very much enjoy her acting, at least when it comes to her Hallmark films. While her confidence and bright personality help even the most mundane scripts shine, she doesn’t often vary her emotional range. Her characters are always high even when they are low, as is the case with Caryn. Everything is like a big “ohhhh” and “a-ha!” moment for her. Sometimes that serves her well, like when she has her initial freak out about not getting that ring and wonders if she should comb through Craigslist to find a husband. Those scenes aren’t balanced by more moments where she plays down that energy though.

That’s not to say she doesn’t try, and she shares some great scenes and chemistry with Tom (Kirby Morrow), the owner of some book business or other who has hired her to improve his company’s operations. The two find they both like mozzarella sticks and the same sappy romance movie. Also, she encourages healthier sleep habits in him and he doesn’t mansplain bowling to her. The movie is at its best when it’s just the two of them hanging out. There’s that cloud of awkward energy surrounding them, but when their friendship comes into focus, it’s crystal clear.

Released: 2014
Dir: K.T. Donaldson
Writer: J.B. White
Cast: Rachel Boston, Kirby Morrow, Ali Liebert, Jesse Moss, Chris Jacot, Stefanie Powers
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2019