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Redeeming Love’ Review: A Gold Rush-Era Film Without Cinematic Riches

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Review: Redeeming Love” opens with the Shakespeare quote “all that glitters is not gold.” and a pair of hands thrusting a pan into a river in search of treasure. The story takes place in gold-rush-era California, in Pair-a-Dice, circa 1850, but the quote is irrelevant to what unfolds over the next two hours, based on the smash-hit 1991 novel by Francine Rivers. Despite the gold, in them, thar hills, “Redeeming Love” is not a successful film.

Angel (Abigail Cowen) is a sex worker and the hottest ticket in Pair-a-Dice, her time being raffled off by the Duchess (Famke Janssen) in front of a mob of men who gather daily outside the palace brothel. After the death of her destitute mother (Nina Dobrev), Angel is trafficked into sex work by a smooth pimp named Duke (Eric Dane). Angel’s mother seems to waste away from shame after she is rejected by her father, who is married to another woman. As for Angel, she doesn’t seem to mind her life in Pair-a-Dice, though a knight in dusty denim is about to change everything.

The redeemer is Michael (Tom Lewis), a folksy farmer who prays for a wife who enjoys fishing. Angel is the highest-priced prostitute in town, so he knows God has a sense of humor when he looks at her. However, he keeps showing up, much to Angel’s chagrin, to chat as often as he can.

Redeeming Love’ Plot

The plot of this film may be viewed from two different perspectives, one Pollyannaish, the other deeply cynical. Filmmakers behind “Redeeming Love” intend for audiences to see Michael as a loyal farmer who falls in love with and rescues a sex worker from her life of exploitation. He marries her and brings her to his farm where he teaches her what it means to be loved and always forgives her when she goes astray. Another interpretation is to see Michael as a religious zealot who believes he has received a message from God telling him that a local prostitute is to become his wife, hence the need to kidnap her from the brothel while she is weak, forcing her into a life of wifely duties despite her attempts to escape.

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