A good friend of mine will no doubt be disappointed that I’m writing this and not something else this evening, but I plead tiredness, and the need to clean out my DVR. Today’s installment has been waiting for me since the end of May, and it’s about time I’ve watched it. We’re all about childhood sweethearts, architecture, apparently there is a golf course, and it stars the girl from the original Center Stage which is one of my all time favorite movies. Love, Once and Always – and that comma is part of the title.
Oh, nice – it starts with location London shots. I lived there once. I miss it.
Amanda Schull of Center Stage is playing Lucy Windsor, the Director of Development at a London museum, although she’s American, and she works for a Sassy Friend, who is also American. She apparently spent her summers growing up in a house like The Breakers or Biltmore. She’s being nominated for a major promotion at this museum that seems to be the V&A, but is not. Lucy loves history, but she peppers her conversation with a lot more history bon mots that I think are necessary. I do not believe that a museum like the V&A would hire someone like this character, American, or British. But I’ve only been to the V&A once, so what do I know.
Lucy gets a letter, and it’s not a good one. She heads back to work upset that her Aunt Grace has died. She lived in Wycliffe House in Rhode Island – and Lucy has just inherited this house. There is also a backstory of Duncan, the tall, dark, and dashing son of the estate caretakers that Aunt Grace took in when his parents died. With all that exposition out of the way, Lucy heads to Rhode Island! In an amazing bit of continuity, Lucy’s hair is up when she gets into the car at the airport, and when she’s driving with her old friend Eleanor, her hair is down. No one’s hair looks that good after a 6 hour flight with it being in a messy bun.
Eleanor tries to break some Duncan-related news to Lucy, but she’s not about to listen to it – which means we’re going to get some Duncan related news in a bit. Wycliffe House is a Tudor-style mansion that I don’t believe was built during the era of Biltmore and the Breakers. She gets into the house by shoving the door, and guess who catches her? It’s Duncan! And he claims it’s his house! Duncan is played by the very metro guy who was in A Cinderella Christmas. At least he’s wearing a different sweater. (See recap here).
Duncan is an architect, but he doesn’t appreciate how lovely the house is. The house is in disrepair – oh, look, there’s a ballroom! Duncan has a plan to sell the estate to a Mr. Niven who builds golf courses. Lucy is not happy about this plan, and off they go to their own separate wings of the mansion to stew in their annoyance and mutual attraction. Duncan wakes her up by chopping wood right outside her window, and she’s very jet lagged, but he just keeps chopping. But since he doesn’t look like this, we don’t really care.
Off Lucy and Duncan go to the lawyer’s office. Apparently the lawyer, Hannah, is an old nemesis of Lucy. She’s super pissed about this development. But the will is clear – Grace left the ownership to both of them equally. So Grace is match-making from beyond the grave. There’s no money for the upkeep of the house, and Mr. Niven (also a client of Hannah’s) is ready to hear the golf course pitch. It’s a bit unethical, I think, but right now I don’t have a good opinion of people who build golf courses. In order to find a way through this mess of a house problem, off they go to the local diner, where Duncan orders pancakes AND waffles (Why?!?!?) and Lucy is reminded by a former friend about the “Festival” – I knew there would be a festival! Lucy also gets waffles covered in strawberries and whipped cream and still adds maple syrup. Ew.
Apparently the entire town where this house is (probably minus Hannah the lawyer) wants Lucy and Duncan to get back together. Weird.
In order to fix up the house enough to get someone to buy it, Duncan wants to sell off all the antiques, and Lucy is having seven kinds of conniptions about what he’s trying to sell. Off they go to an auction that is basically a Ragtime version of Antiques Roadshow. Local busybodies let Lucy know that a) Hannah is really good at darts in some kind of weird town competition and b) Hannah is jonesing for Duncan like, super hard. Local busybodies also want Lucy and Duncan to get back together and invite both of them over for dinner. It’s not subtle, but apparently Lucy misses it by a mile.
Because Lucy loves history, and loves this Historical Festival, she gets a huge bright idea, and it’s probably going to turn the house into a mini-Highclere Castle, giving tours, and lots of Downton Abbey immersion parties, like this thing. Or maybe she just wants to make it a museum. And Lucy and Duncan are very competitive, and both want their own scheme to succeed. So after some banter, they agree to let the best plan win.
Off they go to that busybodies’ dinner – and it’s so clear that they are trying to get Lucy and Duncan both back together and not to sell the house. Finally, though, the message gets through to both of them, Lucy is not adverse to the idea, even if her dream job is back in London.
On a misty, moonlight stroll, we get the backstory of their breakup – she was going to grad school, and apparently Duncan thought it would be more practical to just break up. Man, this guy sucks! But with this heart-to-heart, Lucy gets the brainstorm to make the estate a historical golf course. Um, sure. But they have 2 days to come up with a sales pitch, and (I called it!) they want to possibly have a ball in that dilapidated ballroom. Truce for the squabblers, and off they go to work.
Montage of cleaning and refurbishing and a lot of whisking away of dust cloths. It’s amazing how much one can do in a montage. If I had a bunch of wishes, one of them would be to get all my annoying tasks done in montage form. Duncan saves Lucy from being doused by a falling can of paint, and after the commercial break, they go back to the Festival for more historically themed fun!
One of these Festival activities is dart-throwing. We already heard that Hannah is really good at this, and Lucy is bad, so Duncan has to help Lucy with her form, and guess what? Hannah arrives looking really jealous and basically Hannah and Lucy have the dumbest girl fight over Duncan with darts. Hannah, with your mousey hair, you are so transparent. But Lucy was just playing Hannah with that whole “less-dominant” hand thing, and Hannah gets the pissed off times – which is an off-shoot of ‘the sad times.
Lucy does a lot of Face-Timing with her assistant in London, but I’m very confused about the time difference, or at least, I think the director of the film is confused about the time difference – it’s dinner time in Rhode Island but the middle of the day in London? That’s not how it works. As Lucy gets more and more in love with her historic golf course idea, she’s less enamoured of her museum job in London.
The Gilded Age ball is coming up tomorrow, and apparently Lucy is not a great dancer. Haven’t you seen her in Center Stage??? She’s awesome – she can quick change like no one else I’ve seen. But all of this is so we can get Lucy and Duncan to stare at each other but chicken out before kissing each other. Sigh.
The Day of the Presentation! Lucy and Duncan are wearing matching outfits. Hannah is there for the whole thing, and she’s got such unsubtle bitchface at how seamless Lucy and Duncan work together.
Josephine the London Assistant keeps popping up on FaceTime to give Lucy a countdown to this big conference call Lucy has to have with the Board of Trustees of the museum to get the promotion. I’m guessing this isn’t going to go over so well.
Ball Time! And even though we don’t get Lucy coming down the stairs, we do get Duncan speechless at the sight of her in a pink dress. Even though this is a “Gilded Age” Ball, it doesn’t seem like anyone is in anything approaching Edwardian fashion. Shouldn’t there be at least some kind of costume. Lucy has to give a speech to open the ball. It’s amazing how many people have come to this party.
And now Lucy and Duncan have to open the ball with a first dance. It’s cute, but again, this ballroom has a carpet. BALLROOMS DON’T HAVE CARPETING. PEOPLE ROLLED UP THE CARPET FOR DANCES! Ugh, this pisses me off. Historian Lucy should know this.
Oooh, kiss-blocked again by the conference call. It doesn’t go well. And now they have to wait for Mr. Niven to give his answer to their proposal.
Ugh, Duncan just said he thinks he and Lucy make a pretty great team.
Mr. Niven shoots the whole proposal down because the numbers don’t make sense, and Hannah is not having it.at.all. And Lucy gets to overhear Hannah’s rant about getting “Lucy on board” with tearing down the estate like his original plan, and Lucy is not having.it.at.all. Duncan is about doing what’s practical and Lucy is in full The Sad Times as she realizes that she and Duncan are just too different.
Ta Da! Lucy gets the job! She is torn about it, but she accepts, and plans to go back to London the next day. Oh, Sad Times Lucy, don’t make rash decisions! She heads to the airport, calling her flight “door-to-door 10 hours long” which is NOT.TRUE, and off she goes, leaving all the scheming villagers scrambling to figure out how to get Duncan and Lucy back together.
Oooh, scheming villager just told Duncan to man up and stop Lucy before she gets on the plane, and that some things are worth saving. This hits home and off Duncan goes to the airport! And scheming villager’s son is now involved somehow, but we get the airport scene we needed with Duncan and Lucy. Duncan begs her to trust him, because letting her go was the worst decision ever. So Lucy cries and they go rushing off to find Mr. Niven with a Hail Mary plan to save the estate.
Oh, this is how Villager’s Son is involved – he’s the driver for Mr. Niven. So you know he’ll drive real slow, and yay! they caught up with Niven. The new proposal is not for him to purchase the estate but to invest in the estate. Mr. Niven will be in touch, after an impassioned speech by Lucy about how history is awesome.
So, Lucy is not going back to London. Duh. Duncan looks like he’s going to cry. I’m amazed that none of the scheming villagers are there to applaud when they kiss. Cut to
One Year Later, and the estate and new golf course are thriving. Aw, man, Duncan is back in a dumbass sweater. I think this actor brings his own wardrobe to every movie he’s in. Both Lucy and Duncan agree that it’s now just “their” house and they’re engaged and we’re done.
Didn’t get the warm fuzzies with this one, have to be honest. I don’t like the guy who played Duncan – him and his floppy hair just seem too slick. And I just want Amanda Schull to keep dancing and never stop, even though I know that Center Stage was like 20 years ago. Anyway, it did inspire me to go back and watch some Downton Abbey, so that’s always a plus. I have a few more movies stuck on my DVR which I will be getting to soon, just so you don’t have to.