Lost Heart: A Movie with Plenty of Heart (Movie Review)

John FarrellBy John Farrell7 Minutes

I’ll be honest, as I watched the opening scene of Lost Heart (2020), I was worried I was in for a film that would not only be intolerable and cringe-worthy, but that it would make me question myself. What have I done wrong in my life to find myself here watching this? Is there anything else I could possibly watch? Will I be able to pawn this review off on one of my unsuspecting colleagues?

Oh boy, was I wrong.

Not only did I really like Lost Heart, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen recently. The characters were real … not just some stock representations that have predictable and boring storylines. The conflict was believable. And the message was inspirational and refreshing without being overly preachy.

Melissa Anschutz turns in an excellent performance as Hannah Sweet (formerly Hannah Howard), a famous musician struggling with her downward spiraling career who is estranged from her abusive father. She returns to her hometown of Lost Heart in northern Michigan for her father’s funeral unsure of what memories lay in store for her.

In her years away, her father has completely changed his life. He is no longer an alcoholic, but instead a man well-respected around town for his many contributions. He is not the same man he once was, but her memories of him still sting. He, however, is still not perfect, often prone to outbursts in church. In fact none of the characters in Lost Heart are perfect and that’s one of the movie’s appeals.

When she arrives home, she is looking for her Aunt Verna (Christine Marie), but runs into her cousin Elsie (Taylor Dupuis), an aspiring musician, and the local pastor Milo Williams (Don Most). Elsie tells Hannah where she can find Verna. Shortly after their reunion, Hannah realizes she can’t delay visiting her reclusive and somewhat flighty mother, Alma (Victoria Jackson).

While Marie, Dupuis, Most, and Jackson all do an admirable job in bringing their roles to life, the star (and scene stealer) of the film, in my humble opinion, is Chip “Chippy” Howard (portrayed perfectly by Josh Perry), also known as Hannah’s step-brother. Not only did Chippy have some of the best lines in the entire film, his off-hand observations were poignant in the storm of craziness swirling all around him.

Of Unidentified Flying Angels and Bigfoot

The movie opens with Milo and his friend Harrison Howard (Dean Teaster), Hannah’s father, in a car with its top down watching the skies for a light that would later be described as an “Unidentified Flying Angel.”

It was at this point where I thought to myself, If this is a movie about UFOs (or UFAs), I don’t know if I’m going to be able to take it seriously. If an alien shows up, I’m done. Fortunately, the flick’s focus didn’t go down that road (too far). It did, however, take a dark turn. Just as the light was directly above the car, Harrison suffers a heart attack right there in the parking overlooking the marina.

[SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD] The unexplained light and their quest, especially Harrison’s, to see it again makes more sense later in the film when the viewers learn through a flashback that the first time Harrison saw the strange light in the sky was the day Hannah ran away from home. Since that fateful day, the light has never appeared

Unsure of what to call it and not fully believing it was a UFO, the citizens of Lost Heart had started referring to the strange lights as UFAs.

Strangely enough, the UFA isn’t the only supernatural element at play in Lost Heart. Chippy is convinced that Bigfoot lives in the nearby woods, and he’ll do anything within his power to catch the legendary creature. Of course, this requires him to secure and create all types of traps and equipment to capture the beast.

At the Devil’s Crossroads

The two phenomenon culminate in the unlikeliest of places – Devil’s Crossroads. Chippy and Niles Cass (DJ Perry), a journalist who has arrived in town to investigate the strange lights, set off in the woods in search of Bigfoot. At the same time, Hannah, Elsie, and Milo are in the same area to reverse a deal Hannah made with the devil in her youth to become famous.

Manufactured Bigfoot noises from Chippy’s speaker, mistaken for the devil, send Hannah, Elsie, and Milo to the safety of Milo’s car. Alma, Verna, and Sterling (Shane Hagedorn), Elsie’s boyfriend, arrive in another car just as Chippy and Niles exit the woods.

While everyone is explaining their reasons for being out there late at night, another UFA shows up. Upon seeing it, Milo explains, “That’s what we saw. … What Harris was always chasing.”

HANNAH: “The light. He answered me.”

ALMA: “The last time he saw you.”

VERNA: “That’s why he always loved those things.”

ELSIE: “But what about your soul?”

CHIPPY: “Did you get it back?”

MILO: “The devil can’t take what we don’t give him. Not by chance, spells, but by our life. It’s about who we serve now in each moment. We show which God we follow by how we live, by what we do. How we love others.”

STERLING: “That’s a … that’s a sermon, Milo.”

Although Lost Heart is not your typical faith-based movie, it reminds us that God is always nearby and forgiveness is always possible, no matter your sins or how far you stray.