Movie review: 'Love Comes Softly' (2002), stars Katherine Heigl and Dale Midkiff

Not Rated. Recommended for family viewing.


Love Comes Softly is a one-hour, twenty-eight minute, Hallmark Entertainment (Alpine Medien Production) 2002 release, in color, directed by Michael Landon, Jr., starring Katherine Heigl, Dale Midkiff, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Corbin Bernsen and Theresa Russell. This moving drama/romance is based on Janette Oke’s bestselling series of books. It's also a great tribute to the priceless value of true, committed love between a man and a woman. 


Love Comes Softly tells the story of Marty Claridge (Katherine Heigl), a bright young woman who travelled to the western part of the United States in a covered wagon, in the 1800s, with her husband in search of a new life. An unfortunate tragedy left pregnant Marty a widow, without a home to live in and no provision for the winter months ahead. After an itinerant minister performed the funeral for her husband amidst a small group of people, Marty Claridge was approached by a widower named Clark Davis (Dale Midkiff) who made an unexpected proposal. Knowing the situation Marty Claridge was facing, Clark Davis proposed a temporary marriage of convenience. Davis asked if Marty would marry him and take care of his nine-year-old daughter, Missie (Skye McCole Bartusiak), help Missie with chores, and teach Missie how to read and write—in exchange for having her food and lodging needs met. Clark Davis also offered to pay her fare to return to her home in the East in the spring of the following year, if that's what she would want at that time.


Though the proposal seemed utterly distasteful to grieving Marty, she realized she had no choice but to accept Clark Davis’ offer. She had to accept his marriage proposal out of necessity. After being married to Clark Davis by the same minister who performed her husband’s funeral, Marty Claridge joined Clark Davis and his daughter Missie and went to live in his home.


The first few weeks were extremely difficult for Marty. She was still grieving the loss of her first husband while simultaneously learning how to manage a home and help out with farm chores. She also tried to befriend Missie, who herself was mourning the loss of her own mother. Missie made it clear to Marty that though Marty could teach her to read and write, she most certainly did not need a new mother. Through these weeks of emotional upheaval and uncertainty, Clark Davis remained steadfast and reliable in caring for Missie’s and Marty’s practical needs on a daily basis.  


Ben and Sarah Graham (Corbin Bernsen & Theresa Russell) were friendly neighbors who would visit every now and then to see how Marty was doing. Sarah Graham had been present at Marty’s first husband’s funeral and earnestly desired to see Marty become happily established in her new life. As the cold winter months passed, Marty’s pending trip home drew closer. Although it now seemed unthinkable to her that the quiet winter months might have birthed an affection in her heart for the handsome, considerate man who had taken her in during her time of need—and she realized she needed to know if Clark Davis had developed feelings for her, too. Marty wasn’t sure now if returning home to the East was the best thing to do, but she knew she needed to make a decision soon.


Love Comes Softly is an unconventional romance and an unthinkable scenario in modern times. It was entirely plausible, however, in the mid-1800s. One bit of wisdom that Sarah Graham had offered Marty during one of her visits was quite profound, “Sometimes, love isn’t fireworks; sometimes love just comes softly.” Perhaps, in our own life and marriage, the love we feel for our spouse or vice-versa may not be always be overwhelmingly exciting nor dramatic—but many times it may be quieter and steadfast, its endurance proven through faithful, daily acts of kindness and loving words spoken over many days and years.


With a well-chosen cast, an intriguing plot, serenely beautiful cinematography and many soul-searching scenes, Love Comes Softly has all of the elements of a truly romantic and memorable family film.

Movie Trailer: 'Love Comes Softly' (2003), starring Kathering Heigl and Dale Midkiff


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Portland, Oregon residents can borrow Love Comes Softly (2003) on DVD, at the Multnomah County Library, tel. 503-988-5234. Love Comes Softly in DVD format can be rented at Movie Madness, 4320 SE Belmont, Portland, Oregon, 97215, tel. 503-234-4363. 

Author, poet, columnist, and speaker JENNIFER ANNE FABREGAS MESSING of Portland, Oregon, is a wife, and mother of three children. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Education and a diploma in Journalism and Short Story Writing. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, Jennifer Anne has over 200 articles, short stories, movie reviews, and poems published in 60 magazines and books, including The Christian Journal, Evangel, LIVE, Standard, Bible Advocate, Christian Fiction Online and Nudges from God. Her latest book, EVERLASTING LOVE: Romantic Vignettes for a Woman's Heart is now available in trade paperback and e-book format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, and Smashwords. Visit the HOMEPAGE of this website to order her books.


Copyrighted © 2016 by Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing. All rights reserved. Contact the author for reprint information. Email: 

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