...shining light on the media, one review at a time
Much has been said and written about the consumer-based identity of current American culture. The results of hyper-consumerism can even be seen in modern relationships, with couples and friendships breaking up as soon as one individual, or both of them, feels his or her needs are no longer being met. But isn’t it natural or even healthy to look out for one’s own happiness?
Through a powerful story for viewers of all ages, the recent Christian film, Amazing Love, shows that there is a better way—and it’s as old as this far-from-new problem of self-centered living.
A church weekend camping trip starts out pretty normal, as youth group leader Stuart and his wife Beth load up a van of church kids to head for the wilderness. Only one cloud looms on the horizon in the form of troubled teen Ashley, a non-churchgoer whose grandmother “forced” her to go on the trip.
Sporting a prickly attitude doesn’t help Ashley get along with the other kids, some of whom are put off by her reputation even before they leave the church. It seems impossible to show love to a girl who so obviously doesn’t deserve it. The camping trip is far from a success until, on the last night, Stuart is inspired to tell the teens the Bible story of Hosea and Gomer.
Through this tale of unconditional love and redemption, the teens hear of a love greater than they have ever dreamed and a God more awesome than they have ever fathomed.
With the powerful account of the Old Testament prophet Hosea and his unfaithful wife at its center, Amazing Love has the most essential requirement for a strong production—a great story. The film avoids the problems that often come with dramatizing a biblical tale by clarifying which elements of the movie’s Hosea story are described in the Bible and which are imagined as possible details. The dialogue and actions that are added to the Hosea story are also rendered harmless by the filmmakers’ apparent commitment to staying as close to the biblical account as possible, even using many of Hosea’s recorded words.
Equally impressive is the filmmakers’ effort to find creative ways to dramatize what could become a sordid tale of prostitution and sexual encounters with instead a pure, but still true and realistic approach—very like the biblical account itself. As a result, this redemptive tale is able to reach families and viewers of all ages. The film is also an excellent outreach tool for unbelievers and boasts an overt Gospel message.
The biblical storyline is the strength of the film, told with authentic detail and the strongest acting performance of the movie in Elijah Alexander playing Hosea. Sean Astin as Stuart does his best to carry the present-day portions of the film, but he is limited by the material. Weaknesses that exist in the modern sections (which include weak plot, transitions, and acting) are easy to forgive and forget when the film moves into Hosea’s tale. And, while the modern story of the film pales in comparison with the historical one, it is still entertaining and fulfills its purpose to frame the Hosea account.
With serviceable cinematography and average production values, Amazing Love is unlikely to win any filmmaking or artistry awards. What it should win, however, is the viewing of families, churches, and evangelistic outreach programs. What it will win are hearts for Christ, changed by the power of His redemption and incomprehensible love.
Check out these similar titles:
The Book of Ruth: A Journey of Faith (Reel Frog Films, 2009)
A Vow to Cherish (World Wide Pictures, 1999)
The Prodigal (WWP, 1983)
For more ideas, visit our What to Watch page!