Sarah Cain used to be a successful column writer, but lately she’s been experiencing writer’s block. To make matters worse, her Amish sister, whom she hasn’t spoken to in years, suddenly dies, leaving Sarah as the legal guardian of her five Amish nieces and nephews. In a moment of desperation, Sarah writes a column about the children and accidentally stumbles upon success. Therefore, she agrees to take the kids to her Chicago apartment in order to secretly continue writing about them. The five children discover that they are in the midst of culture shock when they must assimilate into big city life on a steep learning curve. In the end, they will all have to be honest with themselves and each other in order to find the lives they were meant for.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
As a part of the Fox Faith era of Christian film, Saving Sarah Cain enjoyed increased production success compared to movies before it. The camera work is good, but the video quality could be better. The sound quality is a little above average while the use of music throughout is actually really good. This is something more Christian films need to do effectively. The set and locations are believable and diverse. The editing is pretty good, though there are some parts that leave you scratching your head as to what is actually going on. Overall, there is really not much else to say regarding Sarah Cain’s production; it all comes out as just average.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Adapted from the innovative Amish novel The Redemption of Sarah Cain by Beverly Lewis, this film almost captures the original purpose of the book, but not entirely. The elements are there, but there just isn’t much feeling in this movie. The characters are portrayed as very one-dimensional, not putting forth the depth they should in this highly character-driven plot. Since the storyline is so linear, the characters have to take up the slack, but they do not go as far as they need to. This is likely because the dialogue is very pedestrian and safe. Safe is actually a good word to use to describe this film. No risks are taken and no rewards are reaped. While it is an interesting fish-out-of-water tale, it’s not dynamic enough or deep enough to warrant a higher score. While there are some interesting psychological elements and backstory throughout, the ending is enough to put a damper on anything creative in the rest of the movie, as it leaves viewers wondering what they were supposed to learn from it. This film is basically a nice try, but not good enough.
Acting Quality (1 point)
Unfortunately, the acting really drags down the characters. Most of the characters are cast very poorly; some seem like they are forced into roles not suited for them. There is the usual touch of Michael Landon Jr. evident in over-costuming the cast members, including those playing Amish characters. Emotions are overplayed throughout and line delivery is forced most of the time. While there are some funny moments, the acting is overall a disappointment.
Honestly, this is an instance when the book is better than the movie. The movie removes meaningful elements from the novel, which is probably why they ended up with the paint-yourself-in-a-corner ending they did. In addition to being safe, Saving Sarah Cain is also forgettable. Were it not for its creative use of music (it’s sad that other better movies are not doing this), we probably wouldn’t even remember this film. While it has plenty of potential, it is a very forced screenplay that unfortunately had little to no impact on Christian films.
Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points