About 12 minutes into Fallen Hearts, the perpetually aggrieved Heaven (Annalise Basso) goes to the local circus so she can taunt her stepfather, Luke (Chris William Martin), over the fact that 1) Heaven looks exactly like her mother, Angel and 2) Angel’s dead.
Upon arriving at the circus, Heaven runs into her stepbrother, Tom (Matthew Nelson-Mahood), but it takes her a while to recognize him because he’s wearing a big red clown nose. It’s not until he takes the nose off that she recognizes Tom and then asks him why he’s dressed up like a clown. It turns out that Tom is a clown now! I guess he got a promotion. Tom then asks why Heaven has made herself up to look exactly like Angel….
Unfortunately, Luke has already spotted Heaven and, apparently not understanding how death works, becomes convinced that Angel has returned to life and is standing in the middle of a low-rent circus in West Virginia. Unfortunately, Luke is apparently now a lion tamer and he’s so shocked to see his dead wife that he loses track of his lion.
And, of course, the lion promptly kills Tom. Would the lion have spared Tom if he hadn’t removed his red clown nose? We may never know.
Now, of course, everyone in the film treats this as being a great tragedy. Strangely enough, no one blames Heaven, even though none of this would have happened if not for the Heaven’s apparent obsession with mentally tormenting everyone from her past. But I have to admit that I laughed out loud as soon as I saw that lion in the background because I knew there was no way the scene was going to end without Tom getting pounced on….
And really, that’s the type of film that Fallen Hearts is. It’s the third film in Lifetime’s adaptation of V.C. Andrews’s Casteel Saga (the previous two were Heaven and Dark Angel) and, from the minute that lion pounces at Tom, everyone should know better than to take anything that happens too seriously. Fallen Hearts somehow manages to be even more melodramatic than the first two films and, as directed by Jason Priestley, Fallen Hearts appears to be fully in on the joke.
Priestley not only directs but he also appears in the film, once again playing Tony Tatterton. Tony is not only Heaven’s unacknowledged father but he’s also her stepgrandfather as well. When Heaven finally ends up marrying Logan Stonewall (James Rittinger), Tony invites them to come up to Massachusetts for their honeymoon. Heaven says no but Logan, being a simple boy from the West Virginia hills, is all about family. While up in Massachusetts, Heaven discover that her first husband, Troy (Jason Cermak), isn’t dead after all. He’s just been in hiding for the past five years, mostly because, after the wedding, he discovered that he was also Heaven’s uncle and that type of relationship just isn’t right. Of course, that doesn’t stop Troy and Heaven from having sex after they run into each other while wandering around a hedge maze. Troy vanishes the morning afterward but soon, Heaven discovers she’s pregnant. Is the baby Troy’s or Logan’s?
Actually, speaking of babies, Heaven’s trashy and bitter sister, Fanny (Jessica Clement, stealing the entire damn movie) is also pregnant! And it turns out that Fanny’s been having an affair with Logan so he might be the father. Then again, there’s also scene where the town’s preacher looks at Fanny and shouts, “WHORE!,” so who knows for sure. The one thing we do know for sure is that all of this is going to lead to two pregnant sisters facing off in a court room. These things always do.
Anyway, Fallen Hearts is not a film that’s really meant to be taken seriously and, as I said before, the film itself is obviously in one the joke. The melodrama is turned up to 11 and the actors tear through the overripe dialogue like a moonshiner trying to outrun the cops. Annalise Basso again manages to keep things somewhat grounded as Heaven but the film is totally dominated by Jessica Clement, who brings the wonderfully trashy Fanny to vivid life. The townsfolk and the hillfolk might not think much of Fanny but she keeps Fallen Hearts beating.
The fourth part of the Casteel Saga, Gates of Paradise, will air on Lifetime next Saturday.