The Lost Valentine, a sweet little tearjerker of a film, airs this Sunday night on CBS at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central, as a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. I had a chance to view it ahead of time. The film tells two stories: that of an elderly woman, Caroline Thomas (Betty White), whose husband went missing in World War II, and that of the young reporter, Susan Allison (Jennifer Love Hewitt), interviewing her for a human interest story.
Susan's part of the movie turns into pretty much your standard cutesy love triangle; the outcome of that is so obvious that they should have put the loser in a red shirt, a la Star Trek. But the meat of the story is Caroline's lasting love for her missing husband. Every year on Valentine's Day, their anniversary, she goes to the train station where she saw him off to war, waiting for him just as she had promised she would. When Susan first gets wind of her story, Caroline has been doing this for sixty-five years.
As she tells her grandson, Caroline doesn't believe in giving up on things.
Virtues like courage, faithfulness, and service to others, the values by which Caroline lives her life, are refreshingly honored here. The film is at its best in the flashbacks to the war years, a time when those virtues seem to have been a little more common. (Plus, those scenes have an amazing big band soundtrack.) One character in the modern part of the story scoffs a bit at the idea of a woman's life revolving around a train station ritual, but she's quickly corrected, for that ritual is only a part of Caroline's busy life helping others, especially wounded veterans. She lives out the faith that she and her husband have believed in.
Having a particular distaste for the kind of TV and movie storylines where people are madly in love one day and over each other the next, I was touched by The Lost Valentine's central concept of love that lasts for a lifetime, and I recommend the film for family viewing. Just keep the Kleenex box handy.
Thanks to Hallmark Hall of Fame and Paulist Productions for the review copy.