Director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) has a new movie on the way: Redeeming Love, an adaptation of Francine Rivers‘ novel that’s a retelling of the Biblical book of Hosea, but set in the American Old West.
Logan Marshall-Green (Upgrade), Abigail Cowen (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Nina Dobrev (Vampire Diaries), Famke Janssen (X-Men, Taken), Tom Lewis (Gentleman Jack), and Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy, The Last Ship) are leading the cast. Get a breakdown of the plot below.
For a stretch in the mid-2000s, D.J. Caruso’s career was on the rise. He broke out with 2002’s excellent The Salton Sea, followed it up with the Angelina Jolie/Ethan Hawke thriller Taking Lives, directed Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey in the sports drama Two For the Money, and then made the one-two punch of Disturbia and Eagle Eye with rising star Shia LaBeouf. 2011’s I Am Number Four sort of brought things to a screeching halt, and though he’s made some movies since then, like 2017’s more-fun-than-it-deserves-to-be xXx: Return of Xander Cage, he hasn’t made anything since.
But talk about whiplash: Caruso is going from directing Vin Diesel skiing through the jungle to this Biblical-inspired romance, which is set during the California Gold Rush of 1850. Deadline says the story “centers on Angel (Cowen), who was sold into prostitution as a child. She has survived through hatred and self-loathing until she meets Michael Hosea (Lewis) and discovers there is no brokenness that love can’t heal.”
Francine Rivers wrote the script based on her novel, which was published in 1991. Rivers is a former romance novelist who transitioned into writing Christian-based novels in the mid-1980s. Your mom may have read her “Mark of the Lion” series. (No? Just mine? OK then.) Forgive me for painting with a broad brush here, but faith-based movies aren’t exactly known for treating sensitive or controversial subject matter in the most nuanced way, so despite the intentions of everyone involved, I have doubts that a story about child prostitution is going to be handled with the level of care that that subject matter deserves.
But I’d love to be wrong. At least Caruso is aware of the fraught nature of the subject matter. “While many are victims of horrible circumstances that will haunt them forever, some characters are able to overcome the pain, the sorrow and the brutality to discover how remarkable they truly are,” he said. “Angel’s journey reminds us that healing happens through love and acceptance, never through judgment or force.”
Cindy Bond and Simon Swart, who produced Lionsgate’s faith-based film I Can Only Imagine, are producing alongside a group from Pure Flix Entertainment, and Rivers will executive produce with Roma Downey, the former star of Touched By an Angel and producer of The Bible, A.D. The Bible Continues, and the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to use their gifts to tell a story that reflects their faith, but I just hope this isn’t the start of a new career track for Caruso, who has far more talent than many of the filmmakers who frequently operate in this sub-genre.
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