Best of 2022: ‘Redeeming Love’ is a heartfelt film filled with renewal and redemption

By Laci Strouse

Editor’s note: In our “Best of 2022” series, A&E writers revisit their favorite movies and television shows that weren’t reviewed during the year.

This review may contain some spoilers for “Redeeming Love.” This review also contains a discussion of sexual trauma which might be triggering to some viewers.

“Redeeming Love” went to theatres on January 21, 2022. Throughout the year many films were produced, but “Redeeming Love” remained my favorite. 

The film took place in 1850s California. Angel, played by Abigail Cowan, was forced into prostitution at 8 years old. After years of torment, Angel was left dead inside leaving no space for hope. That is until Michael Hosea, played by Tom Lewis, a man who lived to serve God, is called by God to love and marry Angel. Micheal obeyed his calling and freed Angel from her captivity, yet the demons of her past drew her back to the darkness. Her husband repeatedly saved her and showed her unconditional love. None of it mattered until Angel learned to find love through God.

“Redeeming Love” showed everything Angel went through without shying away from the harsh reality of it. Most Christian films hide the main characters’ past or don’t show everything they experienced. Today, many girls are forced into sex trafficking against their will. This movie brought light to this dark topic. It also brought light to women with dark testimonies and those who feel unworthy of love.

 Michael prays for God to bring him a wonderful wife.

Micheal served as two important messages in the film. He was an example of what a man that is actively pursuing God looks like. He reflected God’s love and forgiveness, making his character even better. Michael was very easy to fall in love with while watching the film. His character development could have been better and consistent with the novel. Michael was portrayed as too perfect in the film, which takes away from his human nature. In the novel, he experienced anger, pain, and suffering which should have been incorporated into the film. I still loved his character overall and thought it got the point across that he is a God-fearing man.

Angel could never accept Michael’s love because she didn’t feel worthy. Her past haunted her leaving her with the mindset that Michael was too good for her. As a result, Angel fled back to captivity, repeatedly. “Redeeming Love” showed the hardship of accepting God’s love through Angel fleeing from Michael. She comes to her ultimate trial when she faces Duke, the man who owned and abused her, for the last time. God called Michael to fight for her only through prayer. This is the moment when Angel learns to let God intervene. She finally relied on God and trusted in Him. The theme in this scene deeply resided with me. It showed that He still loves you no matter how far you run from God, no matter what you’ve done, and no matter who you are. 

Once Angel was free, she spent 3 years running a school for young girls. The school served to help trafficked girls like her learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and skills that will help them make a living. This illustrated the theme that what Satan meant for evil, God used for good. It also presented the message that God uses broken people for His glory. God used Angel’s dark past to save young girls from going through the same thing. I believe this sends a strong message to girls and women that God can use their brokenness for His glory. 

The school Angel creates, the House of Magdalena.

“Redeeming Love” was inspired by the book of Hosea in the Bible. Angel and Michael are based on Gomer and Hosea. Hosea also represents God’s love and forgiveness toward Israel.  The movie is also based on the classic novel “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. The movie did a wonderful job of capturing the big picture of the novel. 

I recommend watching and reading both versions of “Redeeming Love.” The movie is controversial but makes sense if you read the book. Many people disagree with the film’s sex scenes even if it was committed within marriage. In the book, Rivers used intimate scenes to share an important message. She showed that marital sex is meant to be a gift from God and a demonstration of love. Angel was assaulted at a young age. Michael explained to her that sex is more than a physical act when done within marriage. For this purpose, there are intimate scenes to be mindful of in the film. 

Overall, the messages in the film were clearly displayed and inspirational. The actors did a wonderful job of portraying their characters and displaying raw emotion. The  plot flowed smoothly and kept me engaged throughout the film. It will forever be one of my favorite movies. If you’re looking for a movie that will take you on an emotional roller coaster and inspire you, this one will do it.

Redeeming Love is streaming on Amazon Prime

Laci Strouse is a freshman reporter for the Cedars. She studies Professional Writing and Information Design, as well as a women’s ministry. She enjoys reading Christian Fiction and golfing with her brothers.

Photos courtesy of Universal Studios

1 Reply to "Best of 2022: ‘Redeeming Love’ is a heartfelt film filled with renewal and redemption"

  • comment-avatar
    Sharon January 7, 2024 (7:12 pm)

    Stellar acting performances and the message is clear, “God is Love” and He will never forsake us despite being sinners. Aside from the main characters, I especially adore Logan Marshal-Green as Paul on this movie. That scene where he broke down and asked for Angel’s forgiveness exhibited the power of irony, a man said to be God-fearing, in tears and sincerely asking forgiveness from Angel, a woman who is seen by many as a sinner ( being a whore ). Kudos for your great review!

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