Wednesday 18 November 2020

Movie Review: The Lost Husband (2020)

A bland drama and tepid romance, The Lost Husband tries to milk a story from disinterested goats. 

In Texas, Libby (Leslie Bibb) has lost her husband to a car crash and her house to financial insolvency. She can no longer tolerate living with her insufferable mother Marsha (Sharon Lawrence), so relocates along with her kids Abby and Tank to the rural farm of kindly aunt Jean (Nora Dunn). 

The kids quickly settle into a new routine, although Abby tangles with a bully at school. Jean puts Libby to work on the farm, learning from gruff but handsome farmhand O'Connor (Josh Duhamel). Libby also meets Jean's boyfriend Russ and his granddaughter Sunshine, who dabbles in fortunetelling and communicating with the dead. Just as Libby is starting to enjoy her new life, secrets from the past emerge.

Functioning close to the level of saccharine Hallmark Channel movies, The Lost Husband ambles around the picturesque Texas countryside looking for a purpose. Director Vicky Wight throws in frequent shots of beautiful sunsets and cute farm animals (goats, cows, and a rooster), because precious little else is going on to maintain attention.

The romance between Libby and O'Connor catches a single spark in a barn dance scene, but otherwise he disappears for long stretches. The school bullying story is a routine and unnecessary distraction. The triangle of tension between Libby, her mother Marsha and aunt Jean is unbalanced, Marsha's portrayal as the wicked witch of Texas leaving no room for nuance. Jean's relationship with Russ (who is black) appears inserted to burnish interracial credentials, while Sunshine, with all her intrusive questions, bursts in from another movie.

Leslie Bibb never gets a handle on Libby, neither as a mother suffering from loss nor as a farmhand-in-the-making, while Josh Duhamel is too comfortable as the tough but kind man-around-the-farm. The final act introduces a revelation about Libby's childhood that is much less dramatic than the film wants it to be. The husband is lost early, as is the rest of the plot.


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