While the theaters remain closed, theatrical releases continue to premiere on easily accessed digital platforms. “The Lost Husband,” starring Josh Duhamel, Nora Dunn, and Leslie Bibb is available to stream on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, and a host of other outlets including several cable options such as Comcast and Spectrum. It’s a perfect escapism film filled with love, loss, secrets, and hope for the future as Libby (Bibb), a young widow with two children who loses everything she owns, ends up at her long-lost Aunt Jean’s (Dunn) farm where she meets the Farm Manager James (Duhamel).
The mere description seemingly says it all, and it does say a lot as you can accurately predict what will happen, but there are a few surprises along the way. We meet Libby as she is escaping the suffocating confines of her wealthy yet emotionally unsupportive mother, Marsha (Sharon Lawrence). Traveling thousands of miles with the few items this small family owns, they show up on the doorstep of Aunt Jean whose no-nonsense yet kind arms welcome them all. Libby’s relaxed attitude takes a quick left turn the following morning as she learns she will be James the Farm Manager’s apprentice to help Aunt Jean run her goat farm. Initially, James and Libby repel one another like oil and water, but you guessed it, the two begin to blend perfectly.
“The Lost Husband” provides plenty of sub stories throughout including young Abby (Callie Hope Haverda) being bullied in school, and Libby’s inability to let go of her departed and rather flawed husband as she is consumed by guilt. Aunt Jean and James have their own stories as well, allowing all the characters to have a substantive storyline to contribute to the overall film. While much of this probably sounds very ordinary, it is, but what isn’t is the heart of the film thanks to the chemistry and talent of the actors.
Bibb and Duhamel elevate their love story by never overplaying their roles. There are comedic moments and beautifully romantic and poignant ones as well, but again, there is never a moment of eliciting an eye-roll response. And Dunn, quite expectedly, is pure gold in this as she teaches Bibb how to heal all while making goat’s milk cheese and planting the perfect vegetable garden. The only aspect of incredulousness is the picture perfect Pottery Barn-looking farm house. But I’ll forgive that and focus only on the story and performances which far outweigh that one unbelievable element.
For the first half of the film, much of what happens is quite predictable, but during the second half, we lean in more to Bibb’s antagonistic relationship with her mother and the fallout Marsha and Aunt Jean had upon the passing of Libby’s grandfather. There are emotional puzzle pieces that we and Libby now see and she must put them together to allow herself and her children to finally stand on solid ground.
“The Lost Husband” is not a Hallmark movie as many of us might initially think. It’s much more than that as the script is not totally formulaic and the actors gel using their talents to never overact. And within the main story, we are transported to a more fundamental and basic lifestyle that gives meaning and independence. While it may romanticize the arduous actuality of farming, it’s also inspiring in this way. I’m sure that wasn’t an expected outcome of this film, but given our times, it evokes just that.
Check out “The Lost Husband,” a charmingly entertaining movie that just might surprise you thanks to wonderful performances and a script that takes the time to create surprises and develop a satisfyingly layered story.
3 1/2 STARS