The only thing I know about this movie is that Luke McFarlane HAS A BEARD. And frankly, that’s all I need to know. So why don’t we just get after it. This is our first Movies and Mysteries movie and those usually have a few extra heartwarming feels. So we’ll see about that.
Beth, our lead is wearing the cutest blue plaid skirt and is stuck listening to her neighbor painstakingly practice his new instrument. No one leaves that experience unscathed. After it’s over, Beth plays a music box to reset and remembers her mom. Her dad comes in and tells her it doesn’t feel like Christmas yet. It sounds like this is their first Christmas without her.
Meanwhile, at an auto shop or rather, a garage, BEARDED LUKE, I mean Shawn works on an old car with a precocious youth. It is her daughter Katie. He asks her how music recital practice is going. She is pretty stressed so her dad offers to find her some extra help.
At a school, Beth’s dad Tim is asked to give a speech at the upcoming recital in honor of his wife, Johanna. Beth tries to coax him into doing it. He’s very reluctant. But it’s the inaugural year of her scholarship/instrument fund so he finally agrees.
Beth arrives at a music shop and her friend Sheila (by the way, how man women in their thirties do you know named Sheila?) asks her to file some music sheets while she goes to the back and gets something. Shawn arrives and asks to pick up some sheet music for Katie. Katie suggests a different song to help Katie practice. Then they bicker about whether country or classical music is better. How about NEITHER? Sheila returns and Shawn takes off. Sheila NOT SO SUBTLY whispers to Beth that Shawn is a famous country music star. And he even takes photos with a few fans on his way out the door. He takes a violin lesson flyer on his way out. Oh I wonder who the teacher is?
That night, Katie sees a text from Beth on her dad’s phone that says she’s not taking new clients. Katie takes matters into her own hands and convinces Beth to meet the following day by offering to pay her DOUBLE.
Downstairs, Shawn’s brother, no, his agent-arrives. He laments that Shawn doesn’t have a recording studio. And THEN Katie’s grandma Ruthie arrives. She is there to braid Katie’s hair.
Meanwhile, Beth hangs out with her dad and one of Shawn’s Christmas songs comes on the radio. Beth tells her dad she met him earlier that day. Her dad tells Beth that Shawn lost his wife a few years ago and that he always seemed like a nice guy. I think Johanna, Beth’s mom, knew him too but I missed that part.
Back at Shawn’s house, Katie asks her grandma to slick her hair back because she’s thinks it will be more professional. Her grandma encourages her to be herself! They have a really special grandma/granddaughter moment and I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m glad Ruthie is Katie’s grandma. Shawn arrives with hot chocolate and wants to talk to his mother in law privately. They talk about the recital. They talk about her growing up. Shawn feels stressed about balancing it all. Ruthie just very encouraging to him. She knows just what to say always.
Downstairs, Shawn wonders what his agent wants. He tells Shawn he has to get back to Nashville and record his new album. If he doesn’t he’ll be in breach of contract. So he’s got ALOT to think about. Shawn thinks the music left him but maybe a certain person will help it return?
OKAY HIS HOUSE. I would never leave either. Beth arrives and has the same reaction. The doorbell rings and Katie is like oh my violin teacher is here! Shawn is like WHAT. You can’t just hire whoever you want and give out our address! Obviously Shawn and Beth are both surprised to see each other at the door. Shawn is like wait are you even qualified and she’s like yeah kind of. I’m just a professional musician. He’s like well if you’re so good why are you advertising music lessons on a sad little flyer in a local music store? He is finally convinced when she tells her who her mom was.
Katie just says whatever she thinks and blurts out that Shawn doesn’t like music teachers. Shawn just wants the music to flow through you without practicing scales are whatever. Boy these two just could not be more different, am I right? Beth tells Shawn she really wasn’t going to take on any more students because she’s leaving after the holidays and basically admits the only reason she came is because Katie offered to pay her double. Beth doesn’t back down from that rate either. Dang, Beth. I guess a girl’s gotta eat! But side note, if she really wasn’t accepting new students, WHY WAS THAT DANG FLYER STILL UP?
Shawn has several requirements before offering to pay her TRIPLE but forgets his fourth point. Anyway, I think we are all on the same page about the music lessons and the exorbitant rate Beth will be paid. No blabbing about who she’s teaching or Shawn all over town or on social media. So that’s that.
The next morning, Sheila wants ALL THE INFO. Beth is not even gossiping with her BFF. Surely that doesn’t count? Isn’t there a little exclusion clause in all of these contracts that your best friend or sister doesn’t count for internal gossiping purposes only?
Anyway, Sheila is wearing a fantastic red coat and sweater but the jury is out on her bangs. Then Beth runs into an old teacher, Linda or something? Beth shares that she’s kind of struggled to settle in on a job. This woman invites Beth to join her that Saturday to play in a quartet with her. That sounds fun! So Beth gets to practicing. Do we know if Beth knows how to play the violin for real? We know Luke randomly can play the cello in real life right? Does he also play guitar? It’s all the same, right?
Beth’s dad asks her to take a quick practice break to show her that he put up on the Christmas tree. They have a nice moment and start to decorate it.
Back at the ranch, Shawn fumbles through playing the guitar. The agent (who’s name I NEVER catch) is like YES what’s that song called?! He’s like it’s nothing. The agent is apparently is just casually celebrating Hanukkah with Katie inside while Shawn is outside in his feelings. So that’s all fine.
Beth and her dad decorate their tree, looking at all the ornaments fondly. He tells Beth it will feel like Christmas after they visit one more tree.
At the ranch, Shawn’s agent teaches Katie how to make latkes. Guys that massive house. MASSIVE. And we have like an electric stove/oven set up? Wouldn’t he have like a giant gas range and built in ovens? How will he ever resell that thing?
Tim takes Beth takes her to the angel tree in town, which just seems to be in someone’s yard, out in the elements, where the requests can just blow away in the wind or whatever. They agree to take one for themselves and one more for her mom. And no one seems concerned about this tree’s location.
After dinner at the ranch, Katie rushes off to open a massive pile of Hanukkah presents and Mr. Agent wonders about their tree. Katie says her dad waits longer every year to put it up. Katie hopes they will put the tree up soon. Guys, Katie doesn’t really mind sharing whatever is in her heart and mind with any adult willing to listen. Is Shawn so absent a parent that this poor girl is just like starved for adult attention? Or, perhaps, do we have a childless adult writing an eleven year old girl’s dialogue for her? Either way, Shawn overhears.
Later, Shawn stops by a church to see Ruthie. She is conducting choir practice. She gives him a lot of great advice about just like not giving up. Honestly, Ruthie is stealing every scene she’s in. He heads out to get a tree to surprise Katie.
Shawn and Beth run into each other at the tree lot. She’s stocking up on garland, which is something I need to do. And Luke asks her to help him find a tree.
Beth and Shawn get to know each other more. Beth knows Shawn’s mother in law, Ruthie. They argue about classical and country again and he calls her a fiddler. Beth seemingly hears fiddling for the first time as he pulls up a song on his phone and she’s understandably taken aback. He plans to send her a playlist of fiddling. In return, she invites Shawn and Katie to her concert the following night to show Katie what pro violinists and classical music sound like.
Oh so we’re just jumping right to the concert Okay. People snap photos of Shawn as he tries to enter the concert. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like people try not to bother celebrates in their hometown. Locals of that town anyway. Right? Tim kindly meets them at the entrance to help them find their seats. People are barely seated before the quartet gets right after it playing Christmas music. I love it. I could for real listen to this all day long.
Everyone is blown away and Beth tells ol Linda that she hasn’t played like that in years. Linda encourages her to apply for a second chair spot in the Chamber Orchestra. She catches up with Shawn and Katie outside. Shawn is very impressed and Katie is excited for their next lesson. Shawn looks back at her as he walks away.
That night Shawn sings in his barn. Are you telling me that Luke is both bearded and can sing for real?! I can’t. I can’t even. (If it’s true and not a recording of someone else.)
The next day Katie and Beth have a lesson. Katie wants to try some advice that Beth’s mom gave her. And it helps! They take a candy cane break and Beth asks why she chose the violin. Katie said it was so exciting to see Beth playing the violin because all the other ones she’d seen don’t look like her. Then Katie talks about all the fun stuff she did with her mom at Christmas. She just chatters away about all these sweet memories with her mom. Her dad forgets to do the fun stuff. Okay you guys I did not expect to be just sobbing through this movie.
Shawn arrives with ornaments and invites Beth to stay and decorate their tree. Then Shawn asks to meet her at the music store to help pick out a gift for Katie for Christmas. Then Ruthie arrives and they know who each other is but haven’t met yet I guess. Ruthie is AWARE of what is happening.
They must immediately leave the decorating situation and head right to the music store. Wow Shawn is just wearing that turtle neck out and about. They browse the records (some hipster in the Hallmark writers’ room is just OBSESSED with vinyl records apparently) and Beth fills Shawn in on her musical history. She tells him how hard it is to get a spot on in the Chamber Orchestra. Yes, that’s right. The Charleston, West Virginia, Chamber Orchestra is as difficult to get into as the Supreme Court. And it is her lifelong dream. I think he encourages her to go for it? They both talk about how they think they other inspires people. Sheila pops in at this point and I decide I really like her, bangs and all.
Beth arrives home to find her dad visibly distraught because they may not be able to buy all the instruments they promised the school. Beth is like, chill we literally set up an instrument fund and we’re going to be doing this every year! It will be fine. We’re going to like, still raise money.
Shawn and Katie work on their car some more. Shawn asks how Katie likes Beth and she just lights up and says she likes her a lot. She said she talked to Beth about her mom and just felt connected with her because they have so much in common. And I definitely don’t start tearing up. Then Shawn sort of bristles and gives TERRIBLE advice to Katie-he tells her not to let people in to quickly. Beth arrives and says she wants to make some angel tree toppers with Katie and Shawn gets very stern and wants to have a chat.
He doesn’t like that they talked about Katie’ mom. He sees it as a violation of their privacy to talk about her mom. Then, for some reason, even though they seem to have a decent conversation about this whole incident and might have been able to work through it, Beth is like maybe I should just quit and leave. Shawn is like okay, BYE!
Now Shawn has to deal with the fallout with Katie. Wow Katie has a really strong sense of her self and feelings. In this scene, for some reason, Shawn decides to try on a southern accent. I think maybe we should just go back to normal. I am not sure Katie and Shawn’s heart to heart gets anywhere but we’ll see.
Back at home, Beth practices some Christmas songs for her audition, which I feel is a bold choice for a formal audition for an Orchestra.
Moments later, it is time for Beth to audition. She just rips in to the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. After, they tell her she will need to audition again and she is competing with one other person. I think we all agree it wasn’t her best.
Back at the ranch, Katie shows Shawn an Angel tree topper she made. ALL BY HERSELF since Beth wasn’t allowed to help.
At some point in the future, the school music teacher makes an announcement at an outdoor Christmas Fair. The Fifth Graders give a mini concert. Katie is there and tells her dad she might be too nervous for the recital. Shawn says he used to get stage fright too. Then he finally gives some good advice to his child.
Katie runs up to Beth and says hi. Shawn says they would all love to have her back. He admits that he overreacted. YES YOU DID GIRLFRIEND. Then Beth’s dad shows up. Katie tells Tim she’s going to play with joy like Johanna always said. After the girls wander off, Tim asks Shawn if it ever gets easier. Just everyone stop crying for two seconds, okay?
Beth and Shawn do some musical work at their respective homes. Beth turns on her music box for inspo. Then her doorbell rings. What do you know, it’s Shawnie head. He is there to give her a better apology. He said he just finished a song and the first person he wanted to share it with was Beth. So now we get to hear Shawn sing. I’ll be honest if I’m Beth I feel so awkward. Do I look at him? Do I look another direction? Luckily here, Shawn’s eyes are closed. So if he did that the whole time it might be okay. Oh no. Now he’s looking right at her. Well better Beth than me. She seems into it. Beth loves the song. Then she jumps right into some constructive criticism. He can take it and tells her that his wife used to do that too.
Oh good. Shawn has a little southern accent again. Then he asks about her audition. He asks if he can take her somewhere. She’s like, sure it’s the middle of the workday so I’m not doing anything.
At church, Ruthie leads the choir in a really fun version of Go Tell It on the Mountain. Shawn has taken Beth there to watch them practice. He says Ruthie took him in and made him feel like family at some point. It doesn’t sound like he has great or maybe living parents? After the song, Shawn says he needs to leave to get Katie. Beth wants to stay and watch the choir more. Ruthie knows WHATS UP.
Okay dang it now it’s time for round two on the audition. The judge is pretty snarky with her previous song selection but for some reason I don’t think he’s allowed to call it by its official name because I swear he calls it the Russian Dance song? Or something like that? Luckily for all of us, she’s chosen a new song to play. We’re all hoping the pant ensemble will carry her through this audition. It is certainly moves the judges. And to be honest, seems much more complicated to play than the last song she chose. So why didn’t she do that from the get go? She’s about to walk off the stage when Linda calls her back. And she GOT THE JOB. Which surprises no one. NONE OF US ARE CRYING WHEN BETH TEARS UP.
Oh wow, a new twist. She has to be in a concert now in like a few days, which just so happens to be the same day as the school recital. Why would they want someone to hop into that concert after only a couple days of practice? No. And the PROCEEDS of the CHRISTMAS CONCERT FUND THE ENTIRE SEASON. WHAT NOW? So do they do no other concerts? Do they not charge for tickets for the rest of the year? Picture me gesturing to a punch of photos taped to a wall telling my grandma “that’s not how any of this works.” So Beth wonders how she will tell Katie.
Poor Katie. Shawn tells Katie he has to go to Nashville to record a new album. And then immediately after that, Beth tells Katie she can’t come to the recital. Katie says she is really nervous to play without her but she’s proud of Beth and this new opportunity. Then Katie drops the bomb that they are moving to Nashville. Just ALOT OF THINGS HAPPENING. It’s ALOT to take in. Beth asks Shawn about the move to Nashville. Guys, how long does it take to record an album? Surely he could go back and forth?
They both say how much they have appreciated each other and say goodbye to each other. And then they hug goodbye.
At the school, Sheila reveals she has LESS CHILL than we though and no discretion as she blabs that a “secret” angel donor who is definitely not Shawn donated a bunch of money to the recital/school.
Beth chats with Linda before the big Chamber concert. She agrees to go with Beth right after their concert ends to go catch the end of the school concert. What time are they both starting and how does the school one go longer? I would think the kid one would start and end earlier. But whatever. We already know Katie will go second to last. So WILL SHE MAKE IT?
Ruthie gives a great introduction speech for Tim to talk about Johanna and the instrument fund. Tim gives a speech that sounds even more impassioned with the orchestra playing Carol of the Bells in the background. Then, the girls get done at their concert and high tail it to the school. It’s Katie’s turn at the concert and she looks out in the audience. She has a couple false starts. So Shawn gets up to play guitar with her as Beth also starts playing her violin. Shawn walks up on stage to join Katie and tells her he’s nervous. She says, stop it, you love this (like his wife used to). Again, WILL YOU ALL JUST STOP CRYING. Oh geez now Ruthie is singing. And then the whole audience stands up and starts singing. And Katie finally can play a little on her own.
After the recital The whole crew hangs out together at Shawn’s house. Tim tells the group that they have enough money for 3 years worth of instruments. How many instruments need to be purchased annually? Just curious. Katie shows her grandma the angel tree topper and says it looks like her mom. GUYS. Just…don’t.
Guys I gotta be honest, I thought this movie was going to end at the recital but it keeps going. Shawn finds Katie at what must be the middle of the night at this point to tell her how proud he is of her. Beth wanders in for…who knows what reason. Now it’s Shawn and Beth’s turn to have a heart to heart.
Shawn invites Beth and Tim to join them for Christmas. And then he tells Beth that he’s not moving. He’s turning the barn into a music studio. Surely they can’t get that done before his current recording obligations can be met. How long are they willing to wait for this album for heaven’s sake?
Now, southern accent Shawn asks Beth on a date. But almost as soon as he tries it, we’re back to regular Shawn. And then they KISS! And that’s the end of that.
Okay so this was the first Hallmark Movies and Mysteries movie of the season. I think this is my favorite Luke Mcfarlane movie in recent memory. Despite the random scenes of attempting a southern accent, I think he is doing his best work. I don’t think I’ve seen Heather Hemmens in any Hallmark things but would love to see her more. I generally don’t like the more serious ones as much as the silly light hearted ones because, well, they’re harder to make jokes about. But I did enjoy watching this and loved the whole story. What did you think?