A Million Happy Nows is a love story with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. As grim as that can be in real life, this is a warm story with a relatively happy ending. There are spoilers in this review.
Crystal Chappell, who is the actual veteran of several soap operas, plays soap opera star Lainey Allen. We see her having trouble remembering her lines. She leaves her show. She and her partner/publicist Eva (Jessica Leccia – also the veteran of several soap operas) retire to a beautiful home in the mountains.
Eva slowly realizes that Lainey is ill. Lainey finally admits to her that she knew she was dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s disease when she quit the show. The rest of the movie deals with the way the couple work through the details of the remainder of their lives together.
In their new home, they meet Julie (Dendrie Taylor). She runs a local cafe and knows everyone in town. At first she’s a gushy fan of Lainey’s soap character, but she quickly realizes what’s happening and becomes an ally for the couple. She helps out when Lainey’s behavior gets bizarre and when Eva can’t find her anywhere. Val (Hillary B. Smith), an old friend, also looks in on them regularly.
Lainey and Eva decide as a couple that they will enjoy each small, good moment they have together for as long as they can. They do just that. Those small moments become fewer and fewer as time passes.
The sense of passing time in A Million Happy Nows is not well defined. I didn’t get a feel for how long it took before Lainey went into the memory care facility she herself picked out during her good days. The film seemed meant to be a bit hazy time-wise. The real story was the love and warmth that Lainey and Eva shared and what they gave to each other.
To me, one of the loveliest scenes was near the end. Lainey was in a care facility. Eva went to visit. Lainey showed Eva some of her art. Lainey didn’t remember Eva outright, but she was struck by how beautiful she was and remained attracted to her. It was as if their love would endure no matter what.
I know real-life Alzheimer’s stories don’t come with happy endings, at least not in my family’s experience. Crystal Chappell does provide a realistic look at the darker side of Alzheimer’s in A Million Happy Nows. Jessica Leccia does show the frustration and anguish of losing someone to this horrible disease.
But there’s another side to any story of love and life’s difficult circumstances. That brighter side conveys the emotional impact of A Million Happy Nows.