The Night Hope Died

Claire Forlani and Oliver Hudson in Carolina Moon (2007)

The first few adaptations of Nora Roberts' novels impressed me, they weren't great movies but they worked as they combined some sort of mystery with romance but the last couple just haven't done it for me. And sadly that is how I feel about "Carolina Moon" because whilst it has a decent cast and the mix of romance and mystery it just failed to grab me. Now to be honest I am not the biggest fan of movies where we have someone who solves a mystery through the ability to have visions, and as that is the central premise of "Carolina Moon" my expectations weren't high to start with but even the other elements, the romance and relationships fail to make it any better.

18 years after her best friend Hope Lavelle was murdered and her family made a hasty exit from town, Tory Bodeen (Claire Forlani - Shadows in the Sun) returns to Progress to set up shop despite certain people not happy to see her back. But Tory has always had a super natural ability, she has visions and ever since the 23rd August 1989 she has had reoccurring visions of the night Hope died and as the anniversary of that day rolls around those visions are getting stronger. At the same time she finds herself becoming romantically involved with Hope's brother Cade (Oliver Hudson) who has always had a soft spot for her, whilst Hope's sister Faith (Josie Davis) also returns to town and starts carrying on with Tory's cousin Wade (Chad Willett).

Josie Davis in Carolina Moon (2007)

"Carolina Moon" is in many ways very similar to another Nora Roberts' novel that of "Tribute" as they both focus on a young woman who has visions of the past and in doing so tries to unravel a mystery from the past. In this case with have Tory returning to her home town of Progress 18 years after her friend Hope was murdered and her father was accused of killing her. And having returned to the family home not only does she meet plenty of objections from those not keen on seeing a Bodeen back in Progress but she also has to deal with the visions of that night and what happened to Hope. It does throw in sub plots as we learn that Tory's father was physically abusive to her, Hope's sister Faith whilst also feeling guilty over that night has a thing for Tory's cousin Wade and a few other things, plus of course there's some romance as Hope's brother Cade makes it clear he loves Tory.

To put it simply "Carolina Moon" is typical Nora Roberts because we have Tory trying to solve the mystery of what happened all those years ago whilst falling in love with Cade who supports her in trying to uncover the truth when his Mum is trying to run her out of town. And as such there is a side to this movie which is very obvious, all of this drama plays out in a less than shocking manner as Tory's fears cause her romantic issues, self blame also gets in the way whilst these visions grow in intensity as she gets ever closer to solving the mystery. But then there is an extra element and the actual mystery of what happened all those years earlier is not as clean cut as you first think and it does make for a different angle.

The trouble is that when it comes to solving what happened all those years earlier and who is responsible for the death of Hope it suddenly jumps from not knowing to knowing. Basically it doesn't do a solid enough job of pointing the finger of suspicion yet ironically the person who is to blame is the one you can guess when we meet all the people in the town of Progress when Tory returns.

As for the acting well no one puts in a terrible performance but you do get a sense that the actors which include Claire Forlani, Oliver Hudson, Josie Davis and Chad Willett may have been cast more because they have screen appeal. And it does sadly mean that when it comes to the romantic side of things Forlani and Hudson may look good but the chemistry between them is not there.

What this all boils down to is that "Carolina Moon" is a typical adaptation of a Nora Roberts' novel but not a very good one. It is almost a case that it is more interested in delivering screen appeal than the story and that means whilst the likes of Claire Forlani and Oliver Hudson look good the actual storyline ends up weak and predictable.

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