Amish Grace (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

When a mentally ill man tries to exact revenge on a local Amish school for the death of his daughter, the Amish community is rocked with grief. However, as the religious leadership instructs the faithful to forgive, one mother cannot let it go. Thus, she has to come to grips with what it truly means to follow God and do what He says.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

With professional funding behind it, Amish Grace sports a great production with very few errors within it. Video quality, audio quality, and camera are all on par with industry standards. Sets, locations, and props are all well-constructed and well-utilized. There are no lighting or special effects concerns. The only small problems to note relate to editing, but these are not enough to prevent a high score from being awarded to this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It was great that the writers used real-life source material to explore extremely difficult topics in this narrative. As such, some characters are very relatable as they struggle with hard concepts. However, some characters come off as too perfect and angelic, and there are overall too many characters to keep up with. Because of this fact, there is no clear protagonist, and many of the subplots are unfinished or disjointed. It’s unfortunate that a story based on true events lacked focus and organized purpose. Nonetheless, certain sequences of dialogue and some conversations are intriguing even if they fail to effectively move the narrative forward. Sometimes, it feels like the characters are trapped in what the story wants them to do, such as when there are pertinent points raised about the various inconsistencies of legalism in certain religious lifestyles and when these legitimate concerns are never explored again. In the end, this film was not long enough to do justice to the true accounts, and it’s possible that a miniseries format would have been more appropriate. Despite this, however, this aspect of the screenplay does deserve a modest rating for authenticity.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting is the strongest element of Amish Grace. There are virtually no errors with the emotions or line delivery. It’s clear that the cast members were professionally coached, which leads to a perfect score for this section.

Conclusion

There was so much that could have been done in this movie. The true story is extremely compelling and poignant, but the potentially powerful message is not effectively communicated in Amish Grace. Nonetheless, there are still meaningful elements in this film, so it’s likely worthy your time. We just wonder what could have been.

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

Letters to God [2010] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Tyler Doherty is fighting for his life against the cancer inside of him.  But rather than feel sorry for himself, he seeks to reach others for God by writing letters to God and sharing them with other people, especially his new mail carrier, who has a troubled past he is running from.  As Tyler’s family wrestles with what is happening to him, little do they know that God has great things in store for all of them.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

As a more ‘mainstream’ Christian film, Letters to God has good production quality, demonstrating that time and money were spent on it.  Video quality is clear and camera work is professional.  The opening sequence is interesting and grabs the attention well.  Audio quality is standard, but the soundtrack is slightly generic.  Sets, locations, and props are realistic and appropriate.  The biggest drawback to this film’s production is the choppy editing that tends to only hit the high points of the storyline.  But overall, this is a respectable effort and one that should be commonplace in Christian film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

As another cancer film based on a true story, Letters to God does better that most in its genre at being realistic.  Though the plot is simplistic, it has a meaningful message that it presented by believable characters that endure realistic struggles.  However, there is some information dump dialogue and there seem to be one too many silly\filler scenes that tend to waste time.  Thus, the plot is somewhat incomplete.  Though the characters can also tend to be heartwarming, we wish we could get to know them a little better through deeper dialogue.  As it is, some of their arcs are too steep and simplified to be appreciated.  However, on the bright side of things, flashbacks are utilized well.  In the end, this plot left a lot on the proverbial playing field that could have made it far better, yet many viewers will enjoy this story and its message.

Acting Quality (2 points)

As a semi-professional cast, these cast members are mostly good when it comes to line delivery and emotions.  There are a few head-scratching moments and awkward displays that detract from the overall score, yet there is not much to complain about here.  This is a demonstration of mostly good casting and coaching.

Conclusion

Letters to God checks the necessary boxes for being marginally successful in the Christian entertainment world: spend time and money to make your production look good and make sure you have a professional cast that makes minimal or not too noticeable errors.  If you can accomplish these two feats in a Christian movie, you are unfortunately far ahead of the game.  Being average is great, based on the low standards that have been set by and myriad of basement-dwelling films on the market.  But we still want movies to take that next step into greatness rather than hover around the middle.  When high quality becomes more widespread in Christian film, then the entire movie industry will never be the same.

 

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points