Spoiler alert – I am going to spoil the Redeeming Love movie with this review. However, even if you haven’t seen it but you have read the book – you may want to read this review before you do.
So I recently read the book Redeeming Love. My sister told me I HAD to read it. I am a pretty fast reader when it comes to fiction so I read it in about 2-3 days. It was a good book although I will admit the beginning (Angel’s beginning) was very disturbing to me especially as a mom of young girls. I did enjoy the story and the overall message of the book and I definitely would recommend it to people looking for Christian romantic fiction.
The reason the book even got brought up was that my sister saw a preview for the movie Redeeming Love that was to come to the theaters in January this year. After reading the book myself, I was unsure if I wanted to see the film. However, I decided to give it a go. I kind of wish I hadn’t. Here is my takeaway.
The Story Falls Flat
If you never read the book – I don’t think you would come away with a good impression of this movie. Condensing such a large book into such a short time frame is difficult – I understand. I feel like the characters were underdeveloped and the entire message of the book was poorly represented. Now, if you are someone who has READ the book – maybe it was better for you. You know the inner dialogue of the characters from the book, so you can apply that to the movie (I know I did). However, if you have never read the books, I don’t think this movie will do it for you.
I feel like the role of God was underplayed. I guess I expected this, but it was disappointing. Yes, Michael prays. Yes, you see Angel/Sarah at the end praying. You see a Bible a couple of times. However, the book is literally full of inner dialogue with God. The book is supposed to be a modern day Hosea story. That is missing from the movie almost completely. God is an afterthought. This was probably one of the most disappointing things. Michael’s motivation for what he is doing is God – the movie doesn’t portray that well.
The ending was EXTREMELY disappointing! Angel literally fights her way out of Duke’s place running with the little girls. This is NOT how the book ended. The book’s ending was SO much more powerful! Now maybe they didn’t have time for it – but I think changing the ending took away the providence of God. Angel is praying before she goes on stage. Then she envisions her mother talking to her (this wasn’t in the book as far as I remember). Instead of GOD TALKING TO HER – it’s some depiction of her mother saying “tell them the truth”. So she gets up on stage and starts talking about what Duke does with little girls. Basically – she saves herself with the help of one guy who muscles his way back.
In the book, Angel is praying before she goes on stage. Then when she is on stage, she starts singing the only song she can remember (she learned with Michael) – Rock of Ages. In doing this, a very powerful banker man (who was only in the brothel because for some reason he felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to go there) comes and rescues her. However, he doesn’t rescue her with force. He literally commands Duke to let her go (he holds the purse strings). Then they get the key to the other rooms and let the others go and they WALK OUT. They walk out the main room in front of everyone. Then this man helps them by giving them a place to stay with his family. Angel learns even more about God’s love and providence from his wife and children. They cut ALL this. In the movie, they barely “escaped” instead of it being a supernatural intervention/rescue.
Look – I understand the book has some sex scenes depicted. I feel the book does it in a very tasteful/Song of Solomon way as to not be pornographic. The movie, however, disappointed me. As a Christian, I was embarrassed to see this sex scene between Michael and Angel. Just because it is a Christian book (and therefore Christian movie???), doesn’t mean it is ok to display a sexual act for entertainment purposes. You could have insinuated it – but honestly it was embarrassing to watch. It isn’t like you see nudity, but you see the gyrations and the faces they make. Would you want to watch this with your dad sitting next to you? How about your pastor? How about Jesus? I am gonna go with no.
Additionally, there was “almost” nudity in the film. You see Angel’s hair over her breasts in the film. Several times, you also see a good bit of the side of her breasts. At one point during the sex scene, you even see Michael’s hand on her breast before it cuts away. Now before you call me a prude, would you want your daughter portraying this role in a movie? How about wearing a bathing suit that showed as much breast as this actress had to show? These are REAL people acting out this film. Unless these two actors are MARRIED to each other (and even still I don’t want to watch this), it isn’t right. Make excuses all you want, I wouldn’t want my daughter acting out that role.
Other Smaller Issues
Fashion – “insert major eye roll here” – One of the scenes where she takes off her shirt to reveal her corset (when she is already married and not in her “prostitute attire”), she doesn’t have a SHIFT on under her corset! UG. This is such an annoying thing in Hollywood. Women did NOT NOT NOT NOT NOOOOOTTTTT wear their bare skin under corsets. Seriously – it doesn’t even take much research to get this one right.
Michael’s (Tom Lewis’) accent – ya nope. I have many friends who speak with country accents. His was horrible. Brits make fun of Americans trying to do British accents – well sorry, Tom you fell majorly flat on your American country accent.
One Thing I Did Like
I did like that Duke met his demise. In the book, no one knows if Duke escaped or was hung. In the film, they make it clear that they hung him. I like that. Punishment for the villain.
I really had high hopes for this film figuring Francine Rivers was involved in the production of it. However, in the end, I was not impressed and was actually disappointed. I still recommend the book Redeeming Love though.