Picks and Pans Review: The Echo of Thunder
What we have in this Hallmark Hall of Fame drama is a case of old story, new scenery. Gladwyn (Judy Davis) and Larry (Jamey Sheridan) are a married couple raising specialty palm trees on a plantation in the Australian outback. Now, there's an occupation you haven't seen recently in a medium largely populated by sitcom singles with New York City media jobs. Anyway, Gladwyn and Larry and their three kids have a hard but nice life—until Larry gets word that his first wife has died and Lara (Lauren Hewett), his teenage daughter from that marriage, is coming to live with him. Pearl (Chelsea Yates), Larry's teen daughter with Gladwyn, is hostile to her half sister, and Gladwyn treats Lara like a hired hand. "You weren't exactly warm to her," Larry notices.
Clearly this is a family in need of bonding. Of course, Father could stay around to smooth things over, but that would be too simple. So the script finds a pretext for Larry to absent himself for an extended period while his loved ones face the sort of physical jeopardy that traditionally reveals character. Fire breaks out; a frightening accident occurs. Each time, Lara comes through with flying colors, yet Gladwyn remains distant. What will it take to move her—the sight of Lara packing her bags and heading for an orphanage? In its favor the film has solid performances by Davis and Hewett and attractive location photography. On the debit side are a slow pace and a tendency to underline the obvious. We have to laugh when Gladwyn finally confesses, "I have a bit of trouble showing my feelings."
Bottom Line: Not quite worth the trip