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Leslie Bibb Looks for Love After Loss – Variety

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There are worse issues one might do than take pleasure in a comfy little romance as of late, once we are all cooped up at house craving some significant human contact. If solely writer-director Vicky Wight’s on-demand drama “The Misplaced Husband” might have crammed that void by audaciously embracing a few of the extra syrupy, perhaps even steamy parts of an usually unfairly slighted style.

As a substitute, Wight delivers a sedated Hallmark-y effort that simply hints at heightened feelings — the very sort of rush underserved romance viewers come to this fare searching for — solely to repeatedly interrupt and abandon them in puzzling methods. Equally complicated is that misleading title. Suffice it to say that Wight’s predictable fish-out-of-water story, tailored from bestselling writer Katherine Middle’s 2013 novel of the identical title, isn’t a few husband in any respect, however the widowed spouse he leaves behind in his wake.

She is Libby Moran (Leslie Bibb), a good-natured mom of two who appears no much less misplaced than her not too long ago deceased husband Danny (Kevin Alejandro) we solely get to fulfill throughout a pair of by-the-book flashbacks. (In essentially the most cringe-inducing one, Libby may be heard foreshadowing a tragedy with, “One thing unhealthy goes to occur!”) Once we meet Libby within the opening moments of the movie, one thing unhealthy has already occurred, forcing the younger lady and her youngsters to stay with Libby’s self-centered mom Marsha (Sharon Lawrence). Fed up together with her egotistical guardian’s hardened indifference, Libby walks out on her, heading to her lengthy estranged aunt Jean’s (Nora Dunn) Texan goat farm to make a brand new begin.

Main a satisfying and calm nation life with strenuous calls for the suburban Libby is unfamiliar with, the no-nonsense Jean takes Libby underneath her protecting wing without delay, guiding her until-then convenience-minded niece with an uncompromising sense of self-discipline. In her farm, everybody, together with animals, has an important job to do, she commonly stresses. And earlier than Libby will get to vogue herself with quaint braids and alter into farm-appropriate denim overalls and cowboy boots, she meets Josh Duhamel’s blunt, handsomely rugged farm supervisor James, who supervises the workflow and shortly dismisses Libby’s aspirations to open a “hipster cheese store” with the dairy the farm produces.

Should you’re rubbing your keen palms collectively in anticipation, permit me to substantiate that nevertheless underdeveloped, a love affair does spark between Libby and James. The pair skip over a meet-cute, however the materials nonetheless delivers some style charms by way of different means, particularly when the duo unintentionally finds itself locked in a cooler room for hours, bantering and attending to know one another in consequence. What’s irritating is, Wight does little or no with that setup, deserting the 2 and their undercooked chemistry for lengthy stretches of time to search for juicy twists in several avenues. However these regrettable departures don’t precisely land.

The script spends a substantial period of time with, however then sadly misjudges a extreme incident of faculty bullying involving Libby’s younger daughter — no college administrator could be that apathetic towards a brand new scholar who’s been harassed resulting from her limp. Elsewhere, a long-buried household secret lastly will get revealed, incomes not way more than a shrug from the viewers who’d somewhat witness the following transfer between the lovers-to-be. In the meantime, a pair of paper-thin supporting characters get shamelessly sidelined — the dedicated Herizen Guardiola’s bubbly townie Sunshine serves no objective apart from assist Libby notice hers. Enjoying Sunshine’s father, Isiah Whitlock Jr.’s welcome presence goes to waste, along with his character merely diminished to comedian aid.

Lit by cinematographer Aaron Kovalchik’s palatably sun-dappled however daytime-TV-esque aesthetic, “The Misplaced Husband” is at its most agreeable when it invests in Libby’s adjustment course of in acquainted however endearing montages. In a single scene, she learns the rewarding mysteries of cheese-making; in one other, the lastly savvy employee finds herself singing to goats. However these temporary grace notes get shortchanged by different miscalculated steps. Wight’s units seldom handle to rise above a sure distracting superficiality — Jean’s supposedly well-worn nation kitchen, the place we spend an honest chunk of time, seems prefer it’s not too long ago been outfitted by way of a purchasing spree at Williams-Sonoma, with brand-new pots and pans which have by no means met a burner earlier than. And it’s not simply the manufacturing design that doesn’t really feel lived in. Dashing by way of an emotional journey with an uneven tempo and clumsy dialogue, “The Misplaced Husband” goals for acquainted sentiments round loyalty, household and sacrifice, however bypasses sincerity, essentially the most essential ingredient.

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