Have you ever read a book that you enjoyed but then the movie version did not live up to the greatness of the book? “Redeeming Love” is the newest addition to ‘not portraying the book properly’ collection. “Redeeming Love” was released on Jan. 21, and was adapted from the book of the same title by Francine Rivers. The book is a retelling of the biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. Instead of Hosea and Gomer as the main characters, it follows Michael, a hard-working farmer and his God-driven pursuit of Angel, a prostitute.
The movie and book are both set in the Gold Rush period in California. The movie adaptation of Francine Rivers was directed by D.J. Caruso, who also directed “I am Number Four,” and stars Abigail Cowen, Tom Lewis, Nina Dobrev and Eric Dune. “Redeeming Love” captures most of the important themes, plot points and theological significance, but it falls short in many other respects.
The movie was disappointing because it did not display the underlying significance of the events or character’s actions and motives. The book’s underlying themes show the importance of trusting in God to provide what we need and believing that God is Lord of our lives. This is embodied through Angel’s story, which did not get its moment to shine in the movie. Angel, whose birth name is Sarah, was a bastard child of a married man and her mother, Mae. After her mother died, she was sold into prostitution at the age of eight. From then on, her life was filled with pain, emptiness and a conflict that raged in Sarah while trying to accept the love she thought she didn’t deserve.
That was until she accepted Christ into her life and allowed herself to love Michael. Sarah’s journey was not developed enough in the movie to be able to understand the importance of the freedom Sarah received through God.
Another example of this is through Michael’s story. God prompted Michael to pursue Angel through his hesitancy and obstacles that prevented Angel from fully being available to him. One obstacle among many was the issue of Angel’s name. After Sarah was sold into prostitution, she refused to reveal her name to her captor, Duke. Duke proceeded to call her Angel because of her physical attributes. Sarah also did not reveal her name to Michael, but Michael called her Tirzah, Amanda and Mara instead. This dynamic would have made the movie better because it shows the significance of our identity in God’s love. Even the title emphasizes this theme that love can transform or redeem us to who we are truly meant to be. The movie did not accurately depict the underlying themes to create the same emotional impact as the book.
Additionally, the acting was decent but at times was comedic. Eric Dane, who played Duke, had an Irish accent for no reason. The book does have people from different countries, requiring them to have different accents, however. For example, Lucky, Angel’s friend and fellow prostitute, is from Scotland and has an accent. However, there is no indication in the book to give a good enough reason to give Duke have an accent.
On the other hand, the set, costumes and other actors created what life would have looked like during the Gold Rush in California. Actors Cowen and Lewis, who played Sarah and Michael, had decent chemistry. Together they created some funny, sad and touching moments.
If you are looking for an uplifting story that will feed your soul, I would highly recommend reading “Redeeming Love” before watching the movie, or just skip the movie all together. Like any book to movie adaptation, there are bound to be events or people that do not make the cut. However, in this scenario, too much was taken out of the movie to the point where it didn’t have the same impact. The book is a must read as it is written well and addresses a lot of complex and serious topics that are apparent in our lives.