The excitement level over Francine River’s bestselling novel being made into a movie has been building for years. Of course, when I was offered the opportunity to watch an advance screening, I jumped at the offer. I’m glad I did.
Redeeming Love is loosely based on the Bible love story of Hosea and Gomer, set during the 1850’s Gold Rush. The book has been on bestselling lists for decades. And no wonder. Francine Rivers is a masterful writer. She knows how to spin a story. The scenes flow together effortlessly even when jumping through time. The characters come to life. The lines of dialogue sparkle.
Redeeming Love is a high budget movie, and it shows. The sets are spectacular. The casting is perfect. Costumes and hairstyles are period appropriate. Everything about it is bigger and bolder than life. It’s the kind of movie that’s meant to be seen on the big screen.
I know that both Christians and non Christians alike will flock to the theaters to see Redeeming Love. Every woman who’s read the book will want to see the movie. Since it comes out right before Valentine’s Day, they’ll drag their significant others to watch the movie with them. It will sell out in the theaters and top the box office charts. Women will rave about how much they loved it, and their friends will check it out as well. When its long theater run comes to an end, it will linger on streaming sites for years to come. It will win awards and become a classic favorite.
It will be exciting to see a Christian movie doing so well, and yet, what impact will it have on its audiences?
Redeeming Love will draw many non Christians. It’s the perfect opportunity to share the love of God with them, but unless they’re already familiar with the book and the story of Hosea and Gomer, they’ll never realize it’s an allegory. They’ll see it as face value. Sure, they may think it’s a sweet love story of a man who doesn’t stop loving his wife no matter how many times she disappoints him, but they won’t have a clue that Hosea represents God.
In the book of Hosea, Hosea is a prophet who is called to live out God’s teachings. He knew, and the people he was preaching to knew, that his relationship with Gomer represented God’s relationship with the unfaithful Israelites. The Bible story makes it clear that Hosea represented God’s never-ending love for us no matter how many times we fail him. The Redeeming Love book may have made that clear. The movie does not. Hosea is a good guy, but he’s a farmer, not a prophet. He talks to God a couple of times, but the rest of the time he appears to act on his own goodness.
Redeeming Love is a gritty story. The filmmakers wanted to make it realistic, and they did a fabulous job creating a wicked and vile environment. They captured raunchy no problems. Then they took it a step further. They included nudity.
The Christian actors I know have no nudity clauses in their contracts. Many have left Hollywood because they refused to remove their clothes for a film role. And yet, here we have a Christian movie that required nudity from the lead actors. We’re not talking a quick glimpse of a bare back. We’re talking full on frontal with just cascading hair and a carefully placed set piece.
The sad thing is that it wasn’t necessary in any way. Most of the movie is handled discreetly, and it works. We get the idea. But the scene where she stands in front of him completely naked was totally unnecessary. She could have been wearing her usual attire and it would have worked just as well.
If you’re a Francine Rivers fan, especially if you like the book, certainly go see the movie. You may or may not want to bring along your husband. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for a singles date. Go prepared to feel uncomfortable. And then go home and thank God for His redeeming love for you.
Many thanks to Universal for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.
6 thoughts on “Redeeming Love: Movie Review”
Great review! I’m hoping it does well.
I have watched it, but haven’t posted my review yet.
It seems like forever I’ve been hearing talk about this movie, so it was good to finally get to see it.
Thank you for your honest, Christian review! I have been waiting for this movie, but I am disappointed to hear that nudity had to be used.
thanks for your review! I offer my 2 cents:
I read Redeeming Love three times, and it’s my very favorite work of fiction. I’m going to give you my best review; that said, we all filter through our own lens of experience, our expectations, and our convictions. I am a Christian, an avid reader (former English teacher), a trauma-trained therapist, and a pregnancy counselor. I often find Christian fiction to be very “cheesy,” predictable, and unrealistic. That’s not the case with anything from Rivers. She tackles dirty, messy subjects and writes of real life on “the other sides of the track”….life that many of us with in tact, church-going families can’t even imagine.
Often, the women I counsel have lived lives of sex slavery, prostitution, drug abuse, domestic violence, rape, abortion. I wish I could show this movie to every single one of these women. Women who aren’t going to understand “christian-ese” but who will see the gospel in such a beautiful presentation through a movie that really isn’t stereotypical—and one that may touch their deepest heart corners. that said, the sex scenes were in my opinion, too visually graphic. the rating should be R or these 2 scenes should have left more to the imagination. I would not call them pornographic and I understand why they were included, but I feel that the message could have been presented with censors. The book is graphic (and has anyone interpreted Song of Solomon? it’s muchhhh more graphic!) but I understand that seeing it on the screen is different context. Trauma triggering—yes, but in the same way the book depicts and the redemption is strong and beautiful.
Overall, I loved the message of the movie. I wish the 2 sex scenes had been edited. I think if you’re seeing it with the mindset that it’s a movie made specifically for a Christian audience (such as Facing the Giants, War Room, Courageous) you will be shocked/disappointed. If you look at it as a movie geared for a secular audience with a beautiful Gospel core, I think it is just that. Just wish the love scenes were tamed a bit.
Cheree, thanks for sharing your thoughts. When I wrote the review, I hadn’t read any other reviews, but now that the movie’s released, I’m seeing it’s exactly like I thought. The women who read the book love the movie. They understand the story and what it signifies.
I’ve not seen any secular reviews, though, that saw the Gospel core. All they see is the sin and not the spiritual. I wish the movie had focused less on the sin and more on the spiritual. But one thing I’ve learned as a filmmaker and podcaster is that God will get his message where it needs to be. No movie is for everyone, but God will use this movie to speak to those who need it.