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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lost Husband is a romance, but it's more focused on learning how to move forward after loss. Main character Libby (Leslie Bibb) has to discover who she is now that she's no longer a wife and being a stay-at-home mom is no longer a possibility. The story is told through her eyes, but a bit of her children's emotional pain related to losing their dad is also felt. Her daughter is bullied at her new school, and the best way of handling that is debated: Should you fight back or use words? If the latter, what are the appropriate words to use? The school's principal, who enforces the zero-tolerance policy, is made out to be the bad guy. Characters also debate whether college is worth the expense. An unlikable character smokes, and adult characters drink. But overall iffy content is limited. Two curse words are used in the same breath ("chicken s--t," "a--hole"), and there are a couple of kisses and a moment of innuendo in which it's implied that a couple is "making cheese."
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What's the story?
Based on the novel by Katherine Center, THE LOST HUSBAND follows recently widowed Libby (Leslie Bibb) as she sets out to rebuild a new life for her family on her aunt's goat farm. Farm life is more challenging and mysterious than she expects, including having to take orders from hardened, unsympathetic farm manager James O'Connor (Josh Duhamel).
Is it any good?
This is a solid, enjoyable romantic drama that isn't geared toward kids but is fairly family-friendly. At first glance, writer-director Vicky Wight's second feature seems to display all the signs of a Hallmark movie. But The Lost Husband is well beyond that, boasting solid acting, a twisty storyline, a phenomenal soundtrack, and a romance that's about completely letting go of the one you loved before getting involved with someone else. It's unpredictable and yet relatable from the get-go: An upper-middle-class but broke widow escapes her self-absorbed mother's control to go start anew at her estranged aunt's goat farm, where she's expected to do lots of backbreaking work. At the crack of dawn. All day. When Duhamel breezes in, you know instantly that his O'Connor is the love interest (or "hot farmer," as the female locals call him), but things are more frosty than frisky. And while you know all along how things are going to end, it takes a long time to get there.
The movie is politically aware and yet simultaneously politically ambiguous. It takes place in Texas, but it's made clear that Aunt Jean is a "hippie liberal farmer" (a stellar turn by Nora Dunn). And her boyfriend is a "conservative lawyer and entrepreneur." O'Connor covers his truck with message bumper stickers, argues against college, and teaches kids who aren't his own to take on a bully with a jab to the solar plexus. Libby demurs on identifying her political stance, but she locks horns with the public school principal on zero-tolerance policies -- something that many parents will relate to, but perhaps isn't the best attitude to demonstrate for kids when respect for authority is crucial. The music is also an unexpected delight, mixing forgotten favorites with songs by one of Austin's favorite musicians, Bob Schneider, that will be new to most. The film is really Libby's journey of self-discovery, like Eat Pray Love on a budget, and the romance is just the well-deserved icing on the cake. While The Lost Husband isn't going to blow you away -- it's entertaining but not amazing -- it should be recognized for not falling into the trap of many films categorized under romance: It's not "syrupy" or "saccharine." Perhaps, it is "agave" -- a slightly healthier sweet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of "survivor's remorse." How does Libby express that?
"Life isn't fair" is an expression we hear a lot -- but so is "the tougher the challenge, the greater the reward." How does Libby's story demonstrate that? Why is resilience an important life skill?
The characters debate how to deal with a bully. What's your opinion?
Libby expresses gratitude regularly. Why is gratitude beneficial to both the giver and the receiver?
Does the movie glamorize smoking or drinking?
- On DVD or streaming: July 7, 2020
- Cast: Leslie Bibb, Josh Duhamel, Nora Dunn
- Director: Vicky Wight
- Studio: Quiver Distribution
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Horses and Farm Animals
- Character strengths: Gratitude
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some suggestive references
- Last updated: July 8, 2020
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