Despite the saccharine thematic sameness of many Hallmark Channel movies, not all are created equal, and “Daniel’s Daughter” hews a little closer to the polished feel of what currently passes for CBS’ “Hallmark Hall of Fame” than do most of the cheaper-by-the-dozen vidpics churned out for the cable network. Solid performances and scenic locations help bring a little heft to what’s otherwise a pretty standard yarn about a woman whose idyllic life is shaken up by a long-deferred trip home to bury her father.
Cate (Laura Leighton) is the kind of have-it-all magazine bigwig presently featured in multiple primetime dramas, but when we meet her, she’s a little girl whose happiness is brought to an abrupt end by her mother’s death. Sent away by her dad, she’s built a splendid life for herself in New York and is preparing to wed her much older mogul of a boss (daddy issues, anyone?) when she hears her father has passed away, but not before having requested her return.
Still harboring resentment over being shipped off, Cate heads back to her tiny Massachusetts hamlet, where she quickly encounters a dreamy attorney, Connor (Sebastian Spence), while bumping into her father’s old mates and even her dearest childhood friend (Kelli Fox). One needn’t be psychic to see where those fumbling exchanges between Cate and Connor are heading or whether posthumous forgiveness is on the menu.
Even so, under director Neill Fearnley, there’s a breezy quality to the movie that goes down easily, including Cate’s grudging realization that she’s not following the Oprah-style life advice she so blithely dispenses within her magazine.
Shot in Ontario with a heavily Canuck cast, pic is also a couple of notches above the technical aspirations of much recent Hallmark Channel fare, as the company pursues what appears to be a volume strategy in its approach to original movies — occupying a niche the broadcast nets have conspicuously vacated and that even Lifetime fills less regularly since placing its emphasis on series.
In an appropriate footnote given the premise, the movie itself is also a bit of a family affair, produced by Gerald Abrams and written by his daughter, Tracy Rosen.