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Joshua's Heart
Joshua's Heart
Actors: Melissa Gilbert, Tim Matheson, MATTHEW LAWRENCE
Genres: Drama, Television
NR     2006     1hr 36min


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Movie Details

Actors: Melissa Gilbert, Tim Matheson, MATTHEW LAWRENCE
Genres: Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Family Life, Television
Studio: Direct Source Label
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/25/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1990
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1990
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Heartfelt Drama
KittyKins | 11/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a very engrossing and haunting movie with superb acting. It tackles some very sensitive issues including the emotional attachment and bond that can exist between two people. Claudia (Melissa Gilbert) is a shy and sensitive woman who is swept off her feet by Tom (Tim Matheson), after she meets him with his ten-year old son Joshua (Matthew Lawrence) at the movie theatre. She develops an instant bond with Joshua who is starved for motherly attention as his mother left him when he was 5 years of age. His father is busy with work and he is often left in the care of babysitters. In a whirlwind romance Claudia moves in with Tom and develops a motherly relationship with Joshua. He even spends Christmas with her and her family when Tom can't get back from a business trip, and also helps her with the children's book she is writing and illustrating. The relationship with Tom is not all that she hopes it would be and she soon realizes that he is a selfish person who is not interested in settling down. In fact he has already moved on with another woman. Claudia & Joshua continue to be bonded together even after she moves out, and Claud faces an interesting dilemma. Does she try to adopt Joshua, or does she take a step back and allow him to bond with his real mother who is trying to start over? This is a very good movie, but on a cautionary note, this is not a traditional 'family' movie. The storyline is rather mature and the presence of pre-marital sex and smoking by the major adult characters, may cause many parents to reject this movie for family viewing. Due to the issues presented, I think it is most appropriate for pre-teens to adults."
This Movie Will Bring the Weeps
C. W. Emblom | Ishpeming, Michigan USA | 01/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I would suspect that whoever wrote the story for this movie probably went through this heartbreaking experience themselves. The biological mother, a girlfriend of a philandering father, and a ten-year old boy are those who must deal with the hurt only they can relate to. I'm sure many can identify with the helpless feeling of a former girlfriend who would like to serve as the mother of the boy's father who has decided to ditch her and move on to another girlfriend. Both the boy and would-be step-mother have formed a genuine bond with one another that is now being torn apart. In addition the biological mother would like to reconnect with her son in a more meaningful way. Oh what tangled webs! The title of the movie comes from the father's former girlfriend who has written a book, and changed the title's name to the name of the boy, Joshua, rather than a name she previously chose. In the end she presents him with a copy of the book in remembrance of her. I have ordered a number of movies from Amazon and ended up tossing them in the garbage. This movie is a keeper and one to be viewed over again. It involves a feeling of helplessness one experiences in loving the child of another person, while having no legal claim to them."
A Critical And "Intellectual" Critique: Strong Performances
Dr. Karl O. Edwards | Helena, Montana | 09/27/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"At the risk of offending those who "love" this film (and thus garnering "Unhelpful" or negative votes for this review), I am going to put my two cents into the discussion. First off, let me state that I purchased "Joshua's Heart" because of the other reviews and the fact that Melissa Gilbert--whose films I almost always enjoy--was in it. Second, for whatever reasons, I was expecting this film to be a romantic family film, and not a film that would drag up personal demons, and spotlight the horrors of divorce and so called "modern" life. While the film is not rated, and, by the "standards" of the rating system, would most likely would be rated PG-13 at worst (because there is no swearing, nudity, drugs, or overt violence), I personally would rate this movie with an "R" based upon the socially, culturally, and politically (if not morally) explosive issues the film depicts. (Then, again, I guess I am "assuming" that "adults" would actually take time to contemplate the issues portrayed).

"Joshua's Heart" unquestionably takes the high road, in a "love will win out" perspective--not that it is necessarily the way one would expect. It is the theme that many people believe or want to believe; it is the theme that empowers the film. Regardless of one's perspective of this theme, the viewer must also take a hard look at the undertones of this film that make it "unrealistic" for me. First, however, I must say that I did have to watch this film several times to more fully understand the ambiguous feelings and thoughts I felt after watching "Joshua's Heart." This is because the performances are that good. It is also because I went through a divorce I did not want, suffered a nervous break down as a result, and ultimately was allowed only whimsical contact with my children because I was deemed mentally unstable (the short version of the demons this film brought forth for me to deal with).

The most obvious "unreal" aspect of the film is that this is not about "normal," every day individuals, but rather of what they idealistically should be like; that is, Claudia (played by Melissa Gilbert), Tom (played by Tim Matheson), Joshua (played by Matthew Lawrence), and other characters in "Joshua's Heart" are stereotyped. Claudia's stereotype is that of an independent, well off, successful, happy woman, living life her way. That other viewers have perceived Claudia as a shy and sensitive woman who is swept off her feet by Tom is, as far as I am concerned, due to Melissa Gilbert's performance. If one really watches the film they will see that there is nothing shy about Claudia, nor is there much to her character, other than her concerns (and eventual "love") for Joshua, that makes her "sensitive."

How Claudia, Tom and Joshua meet is not an unusual set of circumstances, but their actions, while perhaps normal for far too many people, are "unrealistic" to me. I live in a small city, am very shy, love children, and have found myself in similar situations. Yet I did not end up going out to dinner with the parent and child(ren) I just met, let alone end up going to their house, having sex with the parent, and waking up in the morning to wonder what the child(ren) might think of our actions. Such actions are those of self-centered, extremely out going, "modern" day individuals--AND not acts of "sensitivity." I know plenty of people like this, and I probably have more respect for them than they have for themselves, because in the end we all "know" that these are dubious actions that have negative effects on everyone involved. Those people I know who have self-respect would not find themselves in such an "unrealistic" scenario.

I will not pretend to "know it all," but from my perspective, Tom does not "sweep" Claudia off her feet. Caludia is acting and doing things in ways that she chooses. Nor have I felt, during any of my viewings of the film, that Claudia ever had any feelings close to "love" for Tom. Indeed, one could sarcastically suggest that the film portrays Claudia's one regret--one stereotypically attributed to successful women--that she has never had a child. And if there is any "romance" between Tom and Claudia--unless sex (and perhaps lust) are meant to be symbolic of romance--I certainly failed to perceive it. While Tim Matheson does inject a sense of sincerity in the role of Tom, subsequent viewings of "Joshua's Heart" allowed me to perceive Tom's duplicitous personality. It is the ability of the film to draw the viewers into the relationship between Claudia and Joshua that prevents them from "seeing" through, more quickly, to Tom's "true nature."

A less noticeable "stereotype" is the portrayal of Joshua as this "perfect" child, who takes what ever comes his way with benign happiness. While I believe that many people want to see this characterization--which makes it even harder to catch--I have never seen a child that "perfect." Joshua is the kid that just about anybody can like--or even come to "love." He is outgoing, agreeable, fun to be around, and "behaves" the way a really "good" child should--or better! How many ten year olds do you know that ask an adult, who has come to visit their parent (and could potentially occupy time the parent would give to the child), if they would like coffee and cookies; and then actually serve them? As for other characterizations in "Joshua's Heart," their stereotypes should be more easily identified by the viewer--even during their first watching of "Joshua's Heart."

"Realistically," while fathers are granted custody--more so today than 50 years ago--of children, it is my personal observation that this happens only in cases where the mother has "left" and, albeit somewhat less important, where the father is stable both financially and occupationally. Yet, given the improbability of such an outcome occurring, this is precisely the situation in "Joshua's Heart." My problem with this scenario, beside being fairly to quite uncommon, is that its portrayal lends credence to the belief that divorce is not heavy handed towards fathers (yes, I know I am biased about this), and that fathers are getting custody more frequently than really occurs.

Even less palatable for me, is the meticulousness of the characters. Their "homes" are picture perfect; their cloths are ideal for the scene; the only time a character "messes" up, is when the story line calls for such actions; and they always "appear" to have the answers. Life is not that kind or idealistic.

Perhaps most troubling for me, since I have researched and taught courses on family and marriage, and have experienced the horrors of divorce, is the total absence of the realities of divorce. It shocks me that the trivial explanation that Joshua's mother left Tom and Joshua because she was "too young" and could not "handle marriage and family" is deemed as a totally acceptable cause for divorce--one that apparently other viewers who claim to be "family" oriented have no problem with either: because life is just that way. But life can only be that way if we, as a community and society allow it to be that way. And while divorce does not always result in socially "messed up" children, divorce does always have an impact on children--something that "Joshua's Heart" completely ignores with one exception, the need for comfort and love. And it just happens that this is the gist of "Joshua's Heart."

Claudia suddenly enters Joshua's life and openly--with no sense of shyness--gives comfort and love to Joshua, because Claudia (as part of her "perfect" character) was raised within a family that gave, and continues to give her, comfort, compassion, joy, and love. It is Claudia's "family" that "awakens" Joshua and Claudia to the profundity of their relationship, as well as their mutual denial of Tom and Claudia's "relationship" (if one ever really existed). Joshua "sees" what he has been missing, and seeks to change his life; again, something that too seldom actually is attempted, let alone happen as it does in "Joshua's Heart."

In the final analysis, it is my personal values and biases concerning the nature of life that have impacted my views of "Joshua's Heart." The film wants to appease society by portraying life as working out in the end; that love, even when it hurts, will triumph. I personally have not seen, and certainly not experienced, this idealism. Moreover, "Joshua's Heart" is tacit acceptance that society can not do anything about relationships and the "killing" of those relationships. While I have failed to make a dent, I personally continue to advocate that we do not have to accept what is "reality." Rather, if we, as people choose to say that marriage and family are truly important to us, we can make changes that will keep these vital institutions alive. "Joshua's Heart" dose not paint such a picture; rather it tells the viewer to accept things as they are, and try to make the best of the situations. Nice psycho babble; invalid necessity.

Watching "Joshua's Heart" has been a roller coaster ride for me personally; which is why it has taken me months to write this review. If you are looking for powerful drama, heartfelt performances, or "validation" of the way things are, you will thoroughly enjoy this film. If you have "lived" through the realities of divorce, with any degree of caring, "Joshua's Heart" most likely will strike out at you in ways you may want to avoid. Again, I cannot emphasize enough that I found myself engrossed by the performances--enough so that I have re-watched it several times--of this adult, rather than family, oriented film.

If this review was not helpful to you, I would appreciate learning the reason(s) so I can improve my reviews. My goal is to provide help to potential buyers, not get into any arguments. So, if you only disagree with my opinion, could you please say so in the comments and not indicate that the review was not helpful. Thanks."
Joshua's Heart reached deep inside my heart
Katie | East Coast USA | 04/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I don't write many reviews, but after seeing this movie I had to share how it touched and moved me deeply. It's heartwarming and emotional, and the acting by the young boy who portrayed Joshua moved me to tears more than once. All I can say is if you love a sensitive movie which deals with the human emotion from an adult's perspective as well as the child's, you will definitely want to own this one. As the person before me said in their review, this one is a keeper."