Faith-based romance lacks book’s chemistry; sex, violence.
“Redeeming Love” is based on best-selling author Francine Rivers’s 1991 historical Christian romance. Inspired by the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible story of the prophet Hosea and his marriage to Gomer, the story takes place in 1850 during the Gold Rush. Farmer Michael Hosea (Tom Lewis) prays for a wife and falls for Angel (Abigail Cowen), the highest-earning sex worker in Pair-a-Dice, Calif. The movie, like the book, deals with heavy subjects including child and domestic abuse, forced prostitution, human trafficking and more. The film has strong, clear faith-based messages and themes of compassion, empathy and perseverance, but there’s also partial nudity, kissing and nonexplicit sex scenes, as well as several sequences that take place in brothels. Violence is pervasive, too, with the threat of/references to child and adult rape, pedophilia, incest, brawls, beatings, domestic abuse and murders, including a lynching. Adults drink, and language includes “son of a b----,” “damn,” “whore” and other insults.
Poignant reflection on life as a kid with hearing loss.
“El Deafo” is a beautiful animated miniseries based on the graphic novel by Cece Bell. It tells the true story of main character Cece (voice of Lexi Finigan), who experiences hearing loss after a childhood illness. There are some emotionally intense moments, including a scene early in the first episode in which Cece is hospitalized. There’s also a bit of mean-kid behavior when a new “friend” at Cece’s school manipulates her. While Cece fears being bullied, her classmates are mostly friendly and curious about her hearing aid. Expect mild expressions of dislike between characters, and words like “stupid” and “dumb” are used, but not to describe people. Cece and her friends have a few innocent childhood crushes. (Three roughly half-hour episodes)
Available on Apple TV Plus.
Engaging Irish animation deals with grief; some peril.
“Riverdance: The Animated Adventure” is a charming Irish mythical animation that deals with grief in a positive way. The story centers on Keegan (voice of Sam Hardy), a young boy who’s trying to come to terms with the death of his grandfather (Brosnan). The film offers strong emotional guidance on how kids can navigate a loved one’s death by honoring the memory of the deceased and making your loved ones proud. The movie also celebrates the art of tradition, both culturally and spiritually, and how values are passed down through generations. Strength in community is celebrated, as is teamwork — which is clearly demonstrated in the group dance sequences — along with perseverance and hard work. There are scenes of mild threat, such as characters hanging off the side of a cliff above a river. There’s also an intimidating hunter (Brendan Gleeson) who shoots the antlers off a deer and in one sequence tries to saw them off another. There’s one scene that could frighten very young viewers: a battle on a boat includes the threat of falling and drowning for both Keegan and the hunter. (93 minutes)
Available on Netflix.
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