For the better part of 80 years, since Thomas Wolfe’s posthumous novel said so, “You can’t go home again” has been part of the American lexicon. For the better part of 93 minutes, it’s a large part of the plot line of From the Heart.
Kathy Yoder is a prolific, best-selling New York travel-guide author whose father has just died, and the funeral takes her back to her Amish roots in Mountain View, Ark. There, Kathy is better known as Katrina, and going home again means running into a shoulder so cold that it could produce icicles all by itself. That it’s attached to her sister, Miriam, is an obstacle that Kathy/Katrina spends the whole movie trying to overcome.
Katrina left the community 10 years before, as a 19-year-old redhead wanting more out of life than the knowledge of how to churn butter without the modern conveniences that the Amish famously shun. Of course, leaving in such a way also subjects a community member to a far worse kind of shunning, the kind in which a person is all but excommunicated from the Amish church. Katrina hasn’t been formally shunned, but she’s tiptoeing along the sideline to it.
Along the way, Katrina rediscovers Isaac Mast, who was the teenager she secretly loved but who’s now a grown-up widower with a young daughter. Isaac also has a few things he also hasn’t admitted, such as his love of writing poetry, which he believes also is frowned upon by the Amish — and especially if it were to be published. Of course, there’s also the pesky feelings that he also might have been in love with Katrina.
When Katrina unwittingly exposes Isaac’s poetry to her publishers, leading to his feeling betrayed, Katrina finds herself in a tough spot. She has decisions to make, while not knowing what’s possible: Pursue Isaac, though she has a boyfriend named Jack back in New York? Pursue career, and a possible globe-trotting TV show with Jack? Pursue reconciliation with Miriam? All of the above? Can she really go home again and be true to herself?
Actress Galadriel Stineman does a fine job wrestling with these choices as Katrina. Kevin Joy is good as the conflicted Isaac and Madison Lawlor as an icy Miriam who slowly thaws. The movie merits the Dove-approved Seal for All Ages for its themes of forgiveness and discovering how to be your authentic self without compromising your beliefs.
The Dove Take:
Truth and love translate in any culture, whether it’s that of fast-paced New York or that of Amish country.