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      The Secrets of Bella Vista

      TV-G 2022 1 hr. 24 min. Drama Romance List
      Reviews When Tess inherits an apple orchard along with a half sister she never met, she unravels the mystery of the family that abandoned her, ultimately finding a new understanding of herself. Read More Read Less

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      michael d Full disclosure: I grade Hallmark movies on a curve. Great chemistry between the leads, but this compelling movie is more about a fractured family's scars and secrets than their budding romance I'm a big fan of Rachel Lefevre, the redhead beauty who plays Tess. I also like Hallmark vet Niall Matter, who plays Damhnaic. Rachel was in another solid Hallmark movie this year called Moriah's Lighthouse and Niall was in a really great Hallmark movie this year called Rip in Time. This is not another cookie cutter Hallmark movie. It's an engaging lost and found story that was somewhat reminiscent of The Christmas Note and My Christmas Family Tree (2 great Hallmark movies that explored the emotional impact of a complicated and incomplete family history). The Secrets of Bella Vista is based on the novel The Apple Orchard by New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs and involves the escape, by Tess' grandparents, from Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War II. Tess, unaware of this history, has an interesting job as a high end art and antiques expert in San Francisco and is made to seem too busy to even eat. Just as I was getting annoyed with Tess, I realized the script gave her a believable back story of abandonment that explained most of her actions (with one glaring exception). I also found the explanation for the financial problems to be surprisingly credible. I was drawn in by the story and the careful plot details that made this a (mostly) believable family mystery. I cared about Tess and Isabel (warmly played by Helena Marie) and was grateful that this wasn't a story of scheming and back stabbing beneficiaries. In fact, Tess was unrealistically portrayed as too far on the other end of the spectrum. Specifically, it's revealed at the beginning that she's inherited half of a big apple orchard property, home and business near Napa that she thinks is worth as much as $20 million. And yet she flippantly tells the banker she doesn't want it and is willing to sign it over to a newly discovered family member she's never met. Really?? She's supposedly only 30 years old (which the radiant 43 year old Lefevre pulls off) who seems successful, but how rich can she possibly be? And who walks away from what seems like a huge inheritance? Heck, she could sell her share and donate it to Ukraine War Relief. Her lack of interest is wildly unrealistic. But that was just one of only a few off key notes in an otherwise entertaining and enjoyable movie. Random Observations: The growing (and wonderful) relationship between Tess and Isabel seemed believably warm. I've heard the phrase "bankers' hours", but the banker in this movie really never seems to work. There's a bad outdoor green screen scene at the orchard that looks more fake than most. There's a terrible and terribly misplaced song that plays over the pie baking scene with lyrics that include "we don't need money no, we don't need money for rainy days. We don't need anyone". Ugh. But the scene was cute. I love Hallmark's increasing inclusion of LGBTQ characters without having their lifestyle being the source of any drama. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis When Tess inherits an apple orchard along with a half sister she never met, she unravels the mystery of the family that abandoned her, ultimately finding a new understanding of herself.
      Heather Hawthorn Doyle
      Executive Producer
      Suzanne Arnott, Kate Gajdosik, Michael Shepard, Fernando Szew
      Jamie Pachino
      Production Co
      Corus Entertainment
      Drama, Romance
      Original Language
      Sound Mix
      Aspect Ratio