Lauren Ambrose and Adam Kaufman in Loving Leah (2009)

Getting To Know You

Since becoming a successful cardiologist in Washington D.C. Jake Lever (Adam Kaufman) hasn't had much time to connect with his brother or any of his family. But then he gets called back to Brooklyn when his brother dies all of a sudden which comes as a shock but he is even more shocked when he discovers he is to be part of a levirate marriage to his sister-in-law Leah (Lauren Ambrose) as she had no children with his brother. Despite considering going against the command Jake decides it would be a disservice to his brother and so convinces Leah that they should get married but for her to return to Washington with him where she can do her thing and he his, keeping up the fake marriage just for the sake of appearances. But things get confusing when Jake and Leah begin to get close despite Jake already having a girlfriend.

I have had very little to do with the Orthodox Jewish religion in my time on this planet and I have to admit I was confused and frankly at times bemused by some of the traditions which are shown in "Loving Leah". I imagine that there are many others who have started watching this Hallmark movie and found themselves initially bemused by this tradition of a Levirate marriage as well as the halizah ceremony so that the brother doesn't have to marry his brother's wife.

But when you get beyond the initial culture shock what follows is not so surprising. We get the comedy of Jake and Leah being a bit awkward around each other as room mates to start with, Leah enjoying the freedom of moving away from her mother, said mother showing up and being stereotypical, Jake's girlfriend not being to happy about this fake marriage and of course the whole pretence of keeping up appearances. It is all extremely obvious right down to the inevitable love which Jake and Leah start to have for each other and it isn't really a spoiler to say that because not only is it that obvious but also the title hints at this.

The thing is that whilst "Loving Leah" is obvious it is still enjoyable with some pleasant performances, some nice humour and that familiarity which makes it easy to watch. I suppose what I am saying is that whilst there is a side to "Loving Leah" which might be alien to many it isn't too different to the norm. Much of that is down to the casting because Lauren Ambrose is pleasant as Leah whilst supporting performances from Ricki Lake and Mercedes Ruehl add the comedy edge.

What this all boils down to is that "Loving Leah" is this wonderful mix of familiar but with just enough difference to make you sit up and pay attention. As with all TV movies it won't be for everyone but for those who enjoy the genre this will be another enjoyable distraction.