"THE LETTER WRITER"; written, directed and produced by Christian Vuissa; starring Aley Underwood and Bernie Diamond; running time 86 minutes.
OREM — "The Letter Writer," now being screened at the 11th annual LDS Film Festival 2012, is a perfect fit for the Hallmark Channel.
It's simple, it's sweet and huge problems are easily resolved before the end of the story.
Other than that, it's enjoyable.
The main character, Maggy Fuller, is well portrayed by Aley Underwood, a teenage girl who wants to be a star but math class and a tired, stressed-out mother are getting in her way.
Her life is full of angst until she receives a letter from an old man she's never met, a letter that tells her she's of great worth and destined to do great things.
Her journey to find the writer leads her to Sam Worthington, aka Stanley-in-the-rest-home-guy, and to a life spent more on blessing the lives of others than on her own troubles.
Worthington, played by the late Bernie Diamond, is a winning old man who fills his days with writing letters and notes to strangers. He bolsters Maggy's sagging spirits and helps her learn to help others.
It's a charming tale, but when the woes start being piled on, it gets a little out there.
She's caught cheating on a math test. Her not-so-true best friend lets her take the fall and borrows her boyfriend. It's discovered that Maggy's been stealing from her mother. Her divorced, unaware-of-her-existance dad opens up his life a tiny bit and promptly moves several states away with his new wife and their new five kids. Her boyfriend ditches her. Her rock band breaks up.
It starts to rain. (That's not true. The weather is the only thing that doesn't go bad.)
Just when it seems to be more than one can bear, Maggy finds the will to soldier on and discovers she has true vocal talent and she can play the guitar. She can stay awake in math class (the school apparently has a "just-this-once-it's-OK" cheating policy) and she likes her mother after all.
She helps out the cute little neighbor boy who has cancer. She learns at the side of the letter writer and his old folks friends to think of others and take time to serve them.
In the end, she's just fine and headed in a new positive direction with her career and her daily decisions.
Underwood is a fine, totally watchable young actress. Diamond is engaging.
The movie is nicely shot and scored.
But the many problems would take a great deal more resolving than portrayed, especially something like her father's ongoing neglect. But given that Maggy was never really that bad a teenager, maybe it would be that easy.
If you don't look too hard for real life here, this flick is fine.
And it does have a happy ending. Surprise.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.