So I watched Redeeming Love…
I didn’t expect to enjoy this film. I hadn’t seen a trailer, I’d just read a synopsis before heading off to the cinema and its plot didn’t pique my interest at all. It sounded like a cheesy romantic drama and while it is that, it’s the right kind of cheese. It really is a lesson in why you should never judge until you’ve seen it; because you never know what will resonate with you.
Okay, basic plot: Angel (Abigail Cowen) is an orphan who was sold into prostitution as a young child. Now a young woman, Angel plies her trade in a small mining town in the Old West. One day Angel meets a Michael (Tom Lewis) – who unlike every other man in town – isn’t interested in Angel for her body. Michael wants to save Angel from the life she’s trapped in and make her his wife. Although initially distrusting of him, Angel begins to open up to Michael and, in so doing, begin her road to redemption.
Going into this movie, I expected a superficial, bubblegum romance movie but I could not have been more wrong. Redeeming Love tackles some pretty complex and dark subject matter. Human trafficking, prostitution, paedophilia, gender violence, slavery all get addressed in this movie. These are difficult themes to explore and the reason I enjoyed this film is that it never tries to seem too intellectual or preachy. The movie never seeks to lecture or provide social commentary on these elements but rather shows how they have shaped the characters. This movie is about a love story and that’s what remains the focus of the movie throughout its runtime.
I’ve never read the book upon which this film is based but I’m so glad that the author – Francine Rivers – helped pen the script. Film adaptations of books often feel lacking because by their very nature, they have less time to tell a story than a book. This often leads to characters or even whole sections of plot been trimmed to fit a studio-approved runtime. I feel Rivers was best equipped to trim the story to its core elements while still leaving enough to fully expand the characters. Her and D.J. Caruso (who also served as this film’s director) do a good job converting the story for the big screen, for the most part. There are sections of the film that feel truncated. You’re often left with an end result that skips over the steps that led to it. That being said, if they had put everything in then this movie would be hopelessly too long.
My favourite part of this movie was the performances of its two leads – Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis as Angel and Michael respectively. The two have good chemistry and had me rooting for them to end up together. Their performances aren’t perfect but are more than adequate for this kind of movie. Now while I did enjoy Lewis’ performance and the character of Michael; I have to say the character as a whole felt rather one-dimensional. He’s this shining knight who seemingly has no flaws and is so grounded in his morals and faith that he just feels like a little girl’s fantasy rather than a real human being. The remainder of the cast is made of some fairly recognizable faces and South African characters who do well in supporting roles. I did have a problem with a few actors who had inconsistent accents but the acting in this film is mostly enjoyable and most importantly believable.
I don’t normally comment on make-up and wardrobe in movies unless it’s poor but I have to say whoever was behind this film’s make-up and wardrobe does fantastic work. This film has a much higher production value than I expected and this really helped solidify my belief in the film’s story.
Overall, Redeeming Love is a fun, entertaining movie to watch, particularly with a significant other. Is it going to be hailed as a timeless classic? Probably not but it’s a good way to spend 2 hours. Go watch it. 7/10