Love Finds You in Sugarcreek (2014)

Love Finds You in Sugarcreek is a step above the usual UPtv offerings. Starring Sarah Lancaster and Tom Everett Scott, it’s a well acted film that tells a touching story about a father and son who find themselves stranded outside Amish country in Sugarcreek, Ohio. They are taken in by three elderly sisters, much to the disapproval of their niece who is sure the stranger is hiding a criminal past. The story weaves elements of faith, romance, and mystery without leaning too heavily on any one theme.

Lancaster plays Rachel, a police officer who was raised by her aunts Bertha (Kelly McGillis), Lydia (Annie Kitral), and Anna (Marianna Alacchi). Worried about their health and workload, she convinces them to finally give up the running of their inn. As a compromise, they insist they will still welcome anyone in need. Rachel acquiesces and doesn’t imagine this offer will be immediately taken up by scraggly Joe Matthews (Scott) and his young son, Bobby (Thomas Kapanowski). They sputter into town with no money and no ID, putting Rachel on edge and pushing her to do everything she can to protect her family.

Trust, and the lack thereof, drives this story, and we get a full spectrum of that here. Rachel all but accuses Joe of some unknown crime, so convinced of his guilt and general bad character that even her boss tells her to lay off. She thinks the worst of him and shuts down every opportunity for him to prove otherwise, not that he’s exactly eager to share his background. In fact, Joe has his own trust issues, preferring to run away from a tragic past rather than allow the good people of Sugarcreek help him find his way again. The caginess of both characters means neither is very likable, but credit to Lancaster and Scott for sticking to the less appealing aspects of Rachel and Joe. It’s easy to see ourselves in them, two people who are understandably wary of the world and protective of the people they love.

If the pair taps into the fear and vulnerability that guide our less charitable decisions, Rachel’s aunts offer an entirely different perspective. Their radical hospitality may look foolish and naïve to some, Rachel and Joe included, but it’s the farthest thing from that. Bertha’s face says it all; she’s not a woman who’s been sheltered from danger but one who knows the world well and acts with generosity anyway. I found myself deeply attracted to these three sisters, so moved by this faith that allows them to always err on the side of kindness. They model a life of faith and show how transformative it can be to act on love rather than on doubt and mistrust.

It’s no wonder Joe finds himself growing attached to the sisters and to their way of life. In Sugarcreek, he finds peace knowing that a day’s labor is enough. Scott could probably dig a little deeper into his character’s conflicted psyche, but he effectively shows Joe’s wariness and solitude. Lancaster and McGillis do better in their roles and have me that they’ve been living in the tiny town their whole lives. The only part of the movie that might be a distraction is the mystery thrown into the third act when Joe’s past collides with his present and we find out why he’s been on the run. This part of the plot adds an edge, and as an avid mystery watcher, I didn’t mind. However, it’s also somewhat forced and adds urgency to a story that doesn’t exactly need it.

Alt Title: Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio; Stranger in an Amish Town
Released: 2014
Dir: Terry Cunningham
Writer: Bryar Freed
Cast: Tom Everett Scott, Sarah Lancaster, Kelly McGillis, Thomas Kapanowski, Marianna Alacchi, Annie Kitral, Katherine DeBoer, Ken Strunk
Time: 93 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: UPtv
Reviewed: 2020