It’s October! A wonderful time for pumpkins, leaves, candy corn, and other brownish things. In honour of this particular time period, I’ll be looking at a film called Forever in my Heart. It has nothing to do with autumn. I sought out Halloween-based Hallmark-style romcoms, but that appears to be a genre that doesn’t exist. They do have a few fall films, but I’m disappointed that Hallmark doesn’t have any sexy nurse options. We have to make do with one that takes place in Ireland, a location that is, according to a reliable source, full of “rain and drunks.”
Here’s what Hallmark has to say:
Jenna and Charlie found love in Ireland but their dreams drove them apart. Five years later, they reunite and Jenna has to decide where her heart belongs—back home or in the Emerald Isle. Stars Merritt Patterson and Jack Turner.
The film opens with the Irish landscape and (what I hope for the sake of authenticity) the sound of uilleann pipes and not bagpipes. I don’t have the ear to differentiate between awful musical instruments.
Our heroine Jenna is interning at a charming Irish inn and greets a newlywed couple. She is so delighted that they have chosen to commit themselves to one another for the rest of their lives that she upgrades their room. Once they’re gone, Jenna’s boyfriend Charlie arrives to surprise her with Keogh’s crisps, Ireland’s most readily available crisps.
Charlie arranges one of the cabinets and tells her that the figures should go “leprechaun, Irish flag, harp” because “it’s more fun this way.” I don’t understand that, but I suspect one reference to leprechauns is obligatory. I also question Charlie’s accent. It sounds really wonky.
It’s Jenna’s last week in Ireland, so the whole hotel throws her a big surprise party.
At the party, Jenna gives a generic speech and Charlie and his friend Liam play music for the crowd.
After playing a 30 second song, Charlie tells Jenna that he and Liam have been booked in various pubs across Europe. I hope they play longer sets than this one, otherwise they’re sure to face some angry drunks. He asks Jenna if she’s gotten word on a big job in Ohio to which she replies “no.”
After setting up those plot points, Jenna goads her friend Cath into talking to Liam because this film only has room for one blossoming relationship.
Cath hesitates which forces Jenna to walk up to Liam and declare that Cath likes him and vice versa. I suspect this is supposed to read as “open and honest American,” but it feels more like “asshole” to me. The two people are left to stare awkwardly at each other.
Later that evening, Jenna receives a call from the Ohio job. She’s got it! While she receives the good news, Charlie flashes a ring at Liam. He plans to propose to Jenna. We don’t know how long Jenna has been at this hotel internship, but hopefully it’s longer than the average three-month internship. If not, Charlie is a total clown.
The next morning, Jenna and Charlie cycle through the Irish countryside. Jenna talks about her Dead Father™ (DEAD PARENT™ ALERT) and how much he loved Ireland. Just as Charlie is about to propose, his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend happily informs him that she got the job and starts next week. When it comes to their relationship, they say that they’ll figure it out.
Fast forward five years and they have not figured it out. Jenna is a big shot hotel person in Ohio.
Jenna catches up with Dave, her new boyfriend and the guy who offered her the job five years ago. He’s a jetsetter, opening hotels everywhere! They plan to meet up at hers for dinner later.
At her apartment, Jenna eats crisps in honour of her Dead Father™.
Dave arrives and sweetly remembers that it’s her Dead Father’s™ birthday. He surprises Jenna with a box of generic Irish gifts and informs her that corporate want her to pitch for opening a hotel in Ireland. He’s already bought her tickets and even booked a stopover to see her friends. He’s actually pretty thoughtful to do that. But the surprises don’t end there. Dave proposes and Jenna accepts. They are to wed in Ireland.
Back in Dalkey, Charlie and Liam discuss their future as musicians. I could tell them, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the disappointment. Meanwhile, Cath receives a call from Jenna and they delight in the fact that the American will finally return. We also learn that Liam and Cath eloped.
Jenna arrives in Ireland and waits for a train to Dalkey. She very loudly reads out what she is typing in an email, all while sat next to a woman. You must truly be tone deaf to do this. The woman, Molly, initiates a conversation and then says something to Jenna in Irish because everyone in the country casually speaks the language.
Jenna is greeted happily by Liam and Cath at the hotel. She reveals that she is now fiancée-ed up. Jenna then catches up with Patrick, the owner of the hotel, who informs her that they have a new staff member: Charlie. This is nepotism in action as Patrick is Charlie’s father.
The former couple awkwardly speaks. He notices her ring and they act weirdly over that, too. Patrick interrupts to offer Jenna stew. The three of them eat stew.
Charlie and Jenna discuss their former relationship as well as the current issues of the hotel. In a turn of events that surprises no one, Molly, the woman from the train station, arrives to check in. She keeps commenting on Charlie’s attractiveness.
Jenna struggles with coming up with a good pitch for the investors in Dublin. But no time for that, Patrick is in hospital! He tripped and sprained his ankle, so Jenna offers to help Charlie with making the hotel not suck as much.
While touring a potential wedding venue, Jenna confesses to Cath that Dave hasn’t really discussed much about weddings or their future together. Seeing as he only proposed a few days ago, I think Jenna should cut the damn man some slack. Cath, sensing potential blood in the water, updates Jenna on Charlie’s relationship status: he’s single.
Dave calls Jenna to see how his new fiancée is doing. She mentions Charlie.
After their call, Charlie and Jenna don’t have any flirty moments whatsoever. Charlie simply helps Jenna with her pitch presentation and brings her tea late at night. Dave has nothing to worry about.
However, Patrick has something to worry about. Charlie speaks to his father and drops the bomb that they may have to sell the hotel if things don’t turn around.
Dave arrives in Dalkey to get a hold of his lady. The couple look at the castle wedding venue and Dave is noncommittal. In fact, he thinks the engagement should last a few years. Jenna ain’t none too pleased.
All the characters in this film continue to have secret discussions. Liam asks Charlie about his feelings, Patrick asks Charlie about his feelings, and Cath and Molly ask Jenna about her feelings. And here I thought the Irish only spoke about their feelings when under the influence.
Dave and Jenna have a discussion about their relationship. She comes to a conclusion after realising that he won’t stop travelling anytime soon. She returns his engagement ring.
With Dave out of the way, Charlie and Jenna go on more romantic walks in the overcast countryside. He even takes her to some place that was important to her Dead Father™. He’s had nothing happen in the last five years, so might as well put his eggs in the Jenna basket.
When visiting a ring shop, the owner spills some unintentional baked beans and comments on the ring Charlie bought ‘lo those many years ago. It’s sort of embarrassing for the guy.
The time comes for Jenna to leave the idyllic town. She drives off to pitch to the Dublin investors. The presentation is a total success unlike her engagement to Dave.
It’s the day before the big Dalkey festival and the hotel is full up. Charlie shows Liam that he bought a last-minute ticket to Ohio to really make this relationship happen. I guess the hotel is failing because Charlie is embezzling the money.
This money has well and truly gone to waste since Jenna returns to the hotel to help with the influx of guests. Charlie is pleased as punch since he has someone on-site that actually knows how to run a business.
It’s now the day of the festival. Charlie and Liam play music and everyone plays with goats.
Charlie and Jenna dance. Jenna tells her future-past boyfriend that she’s gotten a consultancy gig in Dublin. Charlie proposes under the assumption that Jenna hasn’t changed from her days of being an intern five years ago. They kiss. FIN.
One irritating thing about these films is that they do a really weird job of defining the character’s traits. For instance, Jenna is big into lists. They point this out repeatedly, but don’t really do anything with it. I’m not sure why bother introducing that element.
Charlie was a Blandly McBland character. He was a musician, but it didn’t seem like he cared much about that part of his life. The main thing that mattered to him was Jenna. Apparently, nothing of importance happened to him in five years. Or he was wildly desperate to explore a relationship outside of the Irish dating pool.
Rating: 2 out of 5 three-leaf clovers
- Full disclosure: I’ve been to Ireland…4-5 times. I can’t remember. This makes me an expert on the culture.
- Re: Charlie’s accent. The actor’s name is Jack and every English person is named Jack, so I’m going to guess he’s English.
- Jenna meets a couple who have been business partners since 1977. Her reply to this is, “I wish you continued success in business and in love.” I thought I’d point out this line because it feels like something a malfunctioning robot would spew.
- Ireland, Ireland, Ireland. There, I’ve now written Ireland just as much as the film says Ireland.
- It sounds like the town’s name is Dalkeith or Donkey. I’m pretty sure both are wrong. I can’t quite hear it properly. Update: It’s Dalkey.
- I hope they’re using Whatsapp for these calls as international calling is still mighty expensive.
- Molly is Patrick’s old flame and they end up together by the film’s conclusion. A big “who cares?” to that storyline.
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