Winter Love Story (2019)

I’m not trying to be funny when I say that Kevin McGarry’s eyes are the stars of this movie, but they are. In fact, they might be actual stars because the pull they have is…strong. I never noticed them before, and apologies to McGarry and his beautiful eyes, but there must be something about movies in which nothing happens that helps you focus on the important things.

Things do happen in Winter Love Story, but the action is largely confined to two people gabbing about the writing life. Cassie Winslett (Jen Lilley) and Elliot Somersby (McGarry) are authors thrown together on a mini book tour to promote their latest work, and as you can imagine, it’s not a thrilling adventure ride. They drive around the Northeast giving interviews and signing books and, since there’s not much else to do, falling in love.

Cassie isn’t sure about this Elliot character at first though. A new writer who’s just penned a breakup memoir called My Heartbreak Year, she doesn’t see herself as the intended audience for his popular dragon tale, The Dread Monarch Saga. She also doesn’t swoon when he puts on his glasses, so girl might want to rethink things. Terrified at the thought of public readings and not wanting to ride on the success of her award-winning author mother (Mary-Margaret Humes), however, she soon finds that having an understanding partner might not be so bad. For his part, Elliot is a smooth operator, effortlessly charming and chatty with fans and interviewers alike, until he’s pressed about the next book in his trilogy, which he of course hasn’t started yet. One can only obfuscate so much though, and he likewise appreciates the counsel and encouragement of his book tour buddy.

Lilley and McGarry take this film about as far as it can go. Neither Cassie nor Elliot are that compelling, but the two actors give the story a little more mileage than it otherwise would have. They allow their characters to be vulnerable in a way that feels honest, even if nothing about the movie is that striking or memorable. Besides an infuriating climax in which one person’s stupid assumption throws the relationship off balance, I can’t think of a scene that sticks out, which kind of makes this the perfect movie to pass a snowy winter weekend.

Released: 2019
Dir: T.W. Peacocke
Writer: MacKenzie Austin, Carrie Freedle
Cast: Jen Lilley, Kevin McGarry, Mary-Margaret Humes, Laura Miyata, Joanna Douglas, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll
Time: 84 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2020