Review: ‘Journey’

Filmed in Westlake Village, Calif., by Hallmark Hall of Fame Prods. Executive producers, Glenn Close, Richard Welsh; supervising producer, Andrew Gottlieb; producer, Brent Shields; co-producer, Patricia MacLachlan; director, Tom McLoughlin; writer, MacLachlan, based on her novel; Narrator: Paul Sutera.

Filmed in Westlake Village, Calif., by Hallmark Hall of Fame Prods. Executive producers, Glenn Close, Richard Welsh; supervising producer, Andrew Gottlieb; producer, Brent Shields; co-producer, Patricia MacLachlan; director, Tom McLoughlin; writer, MacLachlan, based on her novel; Narrator: Paul Sutera.

Hallmark moves gently and touchingly into its 45th season with Patricia MacLachlan’s exploration of generational misunderstandings and a boy’s need for parental affection. The sentiment out on the farm inches up toward an elephant’s eye, and the pace at times dawdles, but the story’s worth the wait.

The boy named Journey (Max Pomeranc), 11, and his older sister, Cat (Eliza Dushku), abandoned bytheir wayward mom, Min (Meg Tilly), live on a farm with their grandparents, Marcus and Lottie(Jason Robards, Brenda Fricker); their father also ankled, but so long ago that Journey can’t really recall him. He remembers a row of white shirt buttons, but that’s about it.

Before she tore off in rage after a disagreement with Marcus, Min ripped up old photos of the family; but Journey has one photo of his father, his only keepsake. There’s a lovely scene in a diner where Min’s having a cup of coffee and exchanges looks with a boy about Journey’s age; it speaks volumes.

Journey trudges through the days without enthusiasm. Marcus has taken up photography to build a past for Journey, and patient Lottie does what she can to make life bearable. Waiting all the time for Min to come home, Journey keeps staring down the road, hoping.

Director Tom McLoughlin builds Journey’s story brick by brick, and writer MacLachlan knows her char-acters. Wisely, she leaves place and time indefinite: There’s no radio, noTV, and no one’s deprived. The soothing quality of life on this farm blooms as the story unfolds. It’s not perfect, as the saying goes in the vidpic, but it’s good enough.

Young Pomeranc does a commendable job as the youth who thinks he’s all alone, and Dushku dis-plays a becoming naturalness as his sister.

Robards turns in a well-modulated if occasionally patented perf as the protective grandfather, Fricker’s Lottie is compassionate, and Tilly manages a strong interp as roaming mother Min.

Directed at a comfortable pace by McLoughlin, production is handsome indeed, with filming done at the David Murdoch Ranch in Westlake Village. The house was already there, but the filmmakers added the barn and pond. Kees van Oostrum’s lensing gives it a warmth, and other tech credits are first-rate, making this 185th “Hallmark Hall of Fame” telecast yet another achievement for the series.

Journey

Production

CBS, Sun. Dec. 10, 9 p.m.

Crew

Camera, Kees van Oostrum; editor, Scott Vickery; production designer, Fred Harpman; sound, Jacob Goldstein; music, Patrick Williams. 2 HOURS.

With

Cast: Jason Robards, Brenda Fricker, Meg Tilly, Max Pomeranc, Eliza Dushku, Sal Lopez, Jason Dohring, Frances Conroy, James Lashly, Anne Betancourt, Annie O'Donnell, Thomas Kopache, Claude Earl Jones.
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