The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland (USA, 2021)

A woman goes back to her childhood roots in this heartwarming Christmas indie film that has some surprise appearances from veterans.

As a child. Belle Winters was penpals with a young farmer, Josh Carpenter. When the two finally meet at Santaland, run by Josh’s family, Belle is embarrassed when she falls in a pig mud pit. Deciding to go home, she and Josh stop writing to each other and on top of that Belle loses a bracelet her grandmother had given her. Belle’s mother convinces her to forget the country life and start life anew. Soon enough, Belle finds herself as a successful model in the Big Apple.

As Belle gets older, she finds herself on the receiving end of gossip as she learns her job offers have been waning and her fiancée has dumped her. When she remembers her grandmother’s bracelet, she decides to leave for Georgia to find Santaland with one thing in mind. And that is to find her grandmother’s bracelet, she is shocked to find Josh. Josh is now a farmer, a widower, and a father to young Adele. On top of that, he’s the local pastor. Belle soon learns that Santaland is in debt and if $75,000 cannot be raised, Santaland must shut down for good. Belle finds herself deciding to help and finds something more in the process.

Most of these Christmas movies tend to have the same old story of boy meets girl, they get into conflict, then resolved they fall in love. This one has that same riff, but adds something more special to the mix. This film is about former penpals who after a misunderstanding lead to losing touch, they reunite years later in a time of need for both parties and the two find themselves in love with each other in the process.

What is special about this film when compared to most of these Hallmark and Lifetime films is that this is based on the real-life love story of the film’s two stars. Jenn Gotzon and Jim E. Chandler wrote handwritten letters to each other and eventually, this old school tradition led to the two marrying in 2017 while making this film. As the adult Belle and Josh, these two have amazing chemistry together and the fact they are a real-life couple, it shows. It may have not worked for some back in the day, but it surely works for these two as the characters are polar opposites. Belle is a self-centered model whose lost her grip on reality while Josh is a well-respected farmer, pastor, and father who is trying to save his family’s legacy with the latter’s real-life daughter Adele put into the mix giving some fun and cute one-liners.

The film has some surprise appearances. There’s Corbin Bernsen as Josh’s dad, who supports his son’s decision to try to save Santaland. There’s also Revenge of the Nerds III’s Henry Cho as farmhand and local Rowdy, who is there to help save Santaland as well. On the other hand, there’s Natasha Bure, the daughter of Candace Cameron Bure, as Cassidy, Belle’s assistant who tries to make sure her boss stays with her life and mindset in New York City. Finally, there’s the legendary John Schneider playing himself as he sings some Christmas favorites in the Santaland scenes in the present-day.

The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland may seem like a typical Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movie but the fact that it’s based on the two leads’ real-life romance makes this even more a sentimental film that needs to be seen.

WFG RATING: A

Vision Films presents an Idealist-Gotzon Films production in association with 2 Actors Productions. Director: Wes Llewellyn. Producers: Jenn Gotzon, Jim E. Chandler, Joel Bunkowski, and George Escobar. Writers: James M. De Vince, Reuben Evans, Betty Sullivan, Billy Falcon, and Bob Saenz. Cinematography: Kacper Skowron. Editing: Bill Ebel.

Cast: Jenn Gotzon, Jim E. Chandler, Natasha Bure, Corbin Bernsen, Henry Cho, Adele Chandler, John Schneider, Robert Amaya, Delilah.

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