Redeeming Love
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Redeeming Love (2022)

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A retelling of the biblical book of Hosea set against the backdrop of the California Gold Rush of 1850.


First, I want to say that I’ve read the book multiple times and love love love it. I just feel like the movie missed the heart of the message of the book. I was so glad that my daughter was busy and couldn’t come to the theatre with me! I was quite shocked at some of the almost-nudity and sex scenes in this. And frankly, I’m disappointed to see so many Christians who think this somehow brings glory to God. It’s one thing to say in a book it’s quite another to show on the screen. So much of the objectionable parts could have been softened. For example, when Michael first goes up to Angel’s room, she’s standing there naked. There was absolutely no need for that.

She could have been in something skimpy for that day that would have covered her. They used her hair as a covering, but there is an actual woman acting this scene, having to stand there like that in front of the cameras and crew, and now the audience. May the Lord reveal to her that, like Angel learned in the book, she is worth so much more than that. The other thing I felt was so disappointing and overdone was the sex scenes, complete with hip movements (to put it as softly as possible.) Lastly, in the book Michael talked to Angel about how she was worth so much more than how people had been treating her. He read to her from the Word. And talked to her about salvation and giving her life to the Lord. None of that was in the movie. They could have skipped on all the skin and faded the sex to black and included the important parts that would have kept this a meaningful Christian movie.

Angel did pray toward the end of the movie, but it sort of felt out of context because Michael hadn’t said anything to her about the Lord, and growing up as she did, she obviously had no real model of what a Christian is. It just was sort of expected that we would think Michael had talked to her about Christ, I guess. But what a missed opportunity to show why she ought to change-because she’s created in the image of the One and Only True God and He loved her enough to sacrifice Himself on a cross for her redemption. She did turn her life around, like in the book, but there wasn’t really any Christian feel to it other than the big cross around her neck and the scene where she asks God to rescue her and tells the truth about Duke.

The cinematography was pretty – though because I grew up in Africa, and have been to CA, it was quite obvious to me that it was Africa and not California in the scenes. That’s not a big deal. The costumes were lovely. The town set was well done. I wanted to love this movie. Went in fully expecting to love it. Came away so sad and heartbroken for what has become “Christianity” in America. The book is something you could hand to an unsaved person and expect them to see the gospel Truth in it. The movie… I went with a friend and we were both cringing at some of the scenes. Not something that shines the light of the gospel, in my opinion. Not something I can in any good conscience tell others to watch.

In any other world, Abigail Cowen would be nominated for an Oscar. It is a lot to ask for a young person to go from broken flower to lady. And it is a story of redemption But alas, we are in Hollywood and therefore, they can’t support a Christian story. Boy, would they be surprised. This movie is dark and ugly and has brutal realities (much like the bible, which we often forget is really horrifying). A young girl is sold to a pimp and is broken and emotionally empty who then finds a kindly farmer who shows her the path to a decent life. Yes, the Academy doesn’t recognize this inspiring story unless a heathen makes it. Or the industry that hides sex traffickers.

Here, it’s directed by D. J. Caruso. Whose career I’d followed closely. He made a solid flick called “The Salton Sea” He is a stylist but also has the chops to make a Christian-based topic without it being overtly religious. It’s a brilliant stroke to have him design this film as it is. It has some really really hard to watch segments. Mostly due to the acting chops of a young Angel (played by Livi Birch) and, aforementioned Abigail Cowen. They play frightened and broken well. This was made much more perplexing that reviewers on another site destroyed this film. Clear where the disconnect is with media and the public. Francine Rivers, listed as a born-again Christian, wrote this story in the 90’s as a re-telling of The Book of Hosea and brilliantly put it in the gold rush of 1850. It is a frontier movie where the people in it are survivalist. The few criticisms I have for it are…frontier people having perfect teeth. And the prostitutes in it not looking more broken. Great cameo from Famke Janssen as the Duchess. Her wicked step-mother take of a madam is fantastic.