“Desertion” is a Hallmark card to women caught in a deteriorating marriage. Skillfully written and directed by Francine Michelle this romantic drama stars Kim Rhodes (The Suite Life of Zach and Cody), Brian Krause (Charmed), Robert Maschio (Scrubs), Patricia Belcher (Bones/Jeepers Creepers), and Bart Johnson (High School Musical). Kim Rhodes portrays Jane Nichols, an ad executive with the perfect job, the perfect husband, and the perfect penthouse right on Central Park. However, one day she starts to see the hairline cracks in her “perfect world’.
Her job is chaotic, she keeps throwing up, and then a test reveals she’s pregnant. Her husband (Robert Maschio) is an artist who waits idly for inspiration and demands much more from this marriage than he contributes. His narcissistic nit-picking strikes an irritable nerve and his lovemaking leaves much to be desired. The next morning blood on the bed sheets indicates she’s had a miscarriage and she decides to take stock of her life. Once having everything, she suddenly leaves it all behind to search for the life she dreamed of having.
Getting on a train to the “middle of nowhere” Jane finds herself in Waterloo, Indiana where she reevaluates who she was meant to be. After several mishaps, she finds herself at the mercy of café owner (Patricia Belcher). When she can’t pay her bill, she offers to work it off and acquires a job and lodging. In the process, she discovers a love (Brian Krause), the man she was meant to have.
While the film has numerous heartwarming situations, it is the consummate acting by a talented ensemble pulling us into this story. Kim Rhodes and Brian Krause, both veteran television actors, have us guessing the outcome of their romantic relationship. They both skillfully portray the vulnerability, wants and the desires of their individual characters. Patricia Belcher brings to the screen that innate wisdom of an older woman who has seen it all and knows how to mend a broken heart. The cook portrayed by Freeman Coffey (“Hard Ball”), is the skeptic in this story, yet he too takes to Jane’s honesty and work ethics. Bart Johnson sympathetically portrays the role of the small town bartender, guardian, arbitrator, and confidant. Robert Maschio’s plays the problem husband, the catalyst that drives this story with his callous self-centered demands. While at times over the top, he’s the irritation that festers in this wounded marriage.
Productions values are first-rate and the photography brings to light the contrast between an affluent cold relationship with that of a meager warm loving one. The music tenderly plays on the heartstrings with its primarily simple piano score. It leads, comments, and speculates with just the right touch and never intrudes on the story. Editing and sound are both professionally done. The film was shot in Chicago during the writer’s strike making it a casting opportunity like that of a perfect storm. The result is a feel-good movie that steals your heart.
CREDITS: Albion Entertainment in association with Fortuity Productions & BYOB Multimedia present a story by Francine Michelle starring Kim Rhodes, Brian Krause, Robert Maschio, Patricia Belcher, and Bart Johnson. Casting by Joel Miller; Original Music by Dean Dinning & Joel Miller; Produced by Joel Miller, Mark Vadik, Morris Liebling; Screenplay by Francine Michelle & Joel Miller; Director of Photography Thomas Wood; Editor Alex Nam; Production Design Mya Schmalz; Directed by Francine Michelle. 94 Minutes. Unrated. Available on DVD from Amazon and Fortuity Productions.