Last night was the world premiere on CBS of the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Loving Leah, starring Lauren Ambrose (from Six Feet Under) and Adam Kaufman. When I saw the previews, I knew I had to see this movie. It looked like just the kind of tear-jerker romance I was in the mood for, and I’ve always loved Hallmark films.
When Leah’s husband dies, she finds herself in a predicament. Well, maybe it isn’t such a predicament for her. She and her husband were of the Hasidic faith and because of this, she’s obligated to marry her brother-in-law, Jake. Problem? He’s not of “the faith”, and he’s not willing. This is actually fine with her (a relief, really) because what she really wants to do is leave the Hasidic community and live. She wants to go to college. So when Jake suddenly stops the ancient ceremony in which he “casts off his brother’s wife and denies his brother’s existence” (by not carrying on the family name for his brother), she’s rather alarmed at first. Still, they manage to devise a plan in which Jake doesn’t have to hurt his brother’s memory (he’s already guilty enough) and Leah can follow her dreams unencumbered. What Leah didn’t plan on was falling in love with Jake.
This sounds like the usual boy meets girl, boy doesn’t want to marry girl, they fall in love eventually plot, but it’s much more than that. I really loved this movie. I thought the whole thing was very believable and the actors very well-cast. Leah is a sweet girl who appears to be soft-spoken and submissive but surprises Jake (and possibly herself) by being able to stand up for herself if need be. Jake has been living for himself for so many years that he hardly knows what to do with a woman around.
Jake and Leah had a great vibe with each other and were a pleasure to watch interact. I was especially interested in Leah – I think I could relate to her quiet personality. It was easy to imagine what she was going through. The way she lived out her religion and followed the customs, even after she moved to Washington D.C., was fascinating as well.
Lauren Ambrose, who played Leah, was able to spend time with real women of the Hasidic community in preparation for her role. I’m sure that’s what made this movie because Lauren did a superb job with her character – you could tell she was comfortable in the role. As an interesting aside, my husband and I noticed that her hair color kept changing, and we didn’t know until about the middle of the movie that she wore a wig because she didn’t want to “excite men other than her husband with her real hair”. Of course we got a good laugh out of that. I thought if she was going to wear a wig she should wear a mask as well – wouldn’t want to excite men with her face. ;-) It was all just so interesting – I was glued to the TV the whole time.
If you enjoy clean romances with happy endings and/or are interested in other religions and cultures, I definitely recommend you see Loving Leah.