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Hallmark's "Guiding Emily" Is the Most Poignant 2023 "Fall into Love" Premiere

Guiding Emily premiered on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on September 8, 2023, and it's the most heartfelt movie of this year's Fall into Love season.

The movie stars Sarah Drew, Antonio Cupo, and the voice talent of Eric McCormack.

Guiding Emily Hallmark movie
Image:  Hallmark Media

What Is Guiding Emily About?

Here is the synopsis of the movie from Hallmark's website:

Emily's life changes after losing her eyesight, while a guide dog struggles with training.  Through a series of missed encounters, both overcome their obstacles and find each other.

Emily is a skilled and avid rock climber, but when she and her boyfriend, Conner, are enjoying a weekend getaway, she's involved in an accident that robs her of her sight and completely changes the direction of her life. 

Despite being a very strong and independent woman, the discouragement and challenges Emily faces send her in an emotional tailspin.  As she comes to grips with her new normal, she draws on the strength of her support network and her own determination to conquer her fears and live her best life.

Garth has multiple chance meetings with Emily starting when he's only an 8-week-old pup, and he never forgets her.  For nearly two years, he lives with a trainer who teaches him how to be a guide dog, but when it comes time to place him with someone, he refuses to obey commands.  Garth has chosen Emily, and he has to find a way to communicate this to the humans in charge of him.

Guiding Emily Reminds Us to Count Our Blessings

Our vision is something we take for granted.  Guiding Emily gives us insight into the hurdles blind people encounter daily and should make us thankful for our good eye health.

The movie depicts challenges faced by the vision-impaired, such as using a public restroom, cooking, getting to and from destinations, picking up a drink, pursuing a vocation, or simply texting and enjoying a movie.

Guiding Emily contains some scenes that are a little heavy.  The viewer can feel Emily's fear, hopelessness, and despair, but Hallmark leads you out of this dark place to offer hope to those who struggle with a disability.  Thanks to technological advancements and a support system of family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors, it's possible to maintain one's independence and live a normal life, even when blind.  

The movie also offers an inside look at the involved process of training a service dog.  One scene in the movie stages a clash between Garth and someone's emotional support animal, and the customer with the support animal is kicked out of the restaurant.  I nearly cheered!  One of my pet peeves is to see people shopping with a pet and trying to pass it off as a service dog when it is not.  Guiding Emily explains the difference and validates the notion that only service dogs should be granted access to public retail spaces.  

It is truly remarkable that a service dog can provide such valuable help to the handicapped.

Guiding Emily Boasts a Stellar Cast

Sarah Drew is the perfect casting choice for Emily, and she nails the part.  Drew manages to express a wide range of emotions throughout the movie, demonstrating her skillset as an actress.  There are moments when she is afraid, tearful, shaking, and stressed and times when she is sweet, gracious, determined, loving, and passionate.   

Sarah Drew

Toby Levins, who has co-starred in a host of Hallmark movies, plays Conner, the man Emily plans to marry until he proves he's really not faithful to the "in sickness and in health" part of the commitment. Conner seems like a decent guy, but he's the typical character who places his career above his romantic relationship.

Toby Levins

Antonio Cupo plays Matthew, the manager of a climbing gym who has been in love with Emily since the first day they met.  Their friendship escalates to something more as he pushes Emily out of her despondency by connecting her to resources that will help her live the life she wants, with the necessary modifications. 

Antonio Cupo

Matty Finochio is one of my favorite supporting Hallmark actors.  He plays Drew, Emily's co-worker who refuses to let her resign.  He is animated, comedic, supportive, and the epitome of loyalty.

Matty Finochio

Guiding Emily Is Based on Barbara Hinske's Novel of the Same Name

Guiding Emily is a fictional work, not one based on a real-life story; however, author Barbara Hinske shared where she received the inspiration for the novel.

Hinske and her husband were invited to visit The Foundation for Blind Children--a center that provides education, tools, and services for the blind of all ages.  Although she'd lived on the same street as the facility for decades, she had never been inside.  She was so moved by the feats the blind had been able to accomplish with the training and resources provided by the foundation that she asked how she could help.  When she learned that funding and awareness are the two necessary ingredients for the continued success of the foundation, she developed a new book series.  

Half the proceeds from Guiding Emily are donated to The Foundation for Blind Children to support the organization that believes vision loss is a diagnosis, not a disability.  There are currently four books in the series, which you can find below:

Guiding Emily proves that when Hallmark bases a movie on a previously published novel, it is superior in quality to the stale tropes staff scriptwriters keep recycling.

As an added touch, the initial movie title and leading cast members appear in both regular letters and braille.

Guiding Emily is dramatic, moving, tear-jerking, and inspiring.  You can view the trailer below, and be sure to grab a copy of Hinske's four-book series to see what the future holds for Emily and Garth!


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