Amish Grace Reviews
Tells the story of the 2006 massacre of Amish schoolchildren by a mentally unstable gunman, that religious community's subsequent forgiveness of the murderer, and their outreach to his widow.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B)
Despite its status as a Lifetime movie and criticisms that it takes artistic liberties with actual events, Amish Grace emerges as a poignant and inspiring little movie. Due largely to acting and screenwriting that are far better than expected, the film transcends its made-for-TV cinematography, editing, and musical score.
It's true, some of the peripheral characters aren't well-developed and come across as caricatures, but the lead performances by Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Father of the Bride), Matt Letscher (The Mask of Zorro), Tammy Blanchard (Bella), and Amy Sloan (The Day After Tomorrow) are all captivating, each giving wholly credible explorations of pain, loss, redemption, and healing. The screenplay intelligently makes a case for forgiveness, love, and faith without any trace of condescension or criticism. The paradox of the Amish shunning those who've left their faith while forgiving the greater sin of murder is brought up, but sadly left unexplored; still, this is a minor issue for a film this well-performed and moving.
Historical fiction has always created characters who are composites of actual people in order to streamline the narrative. Films like Titanic and Glory have done this to memorable effect, but rarely has this been attempted with events that are so recent. One may question the choice to focus on a fictional couple rather than actual people whose stories are certainly inspiring. However, by having protagonists who struggle and doubt more than the almost superhuman real-life Amish seemed to, the filmmakers have given the audience someone to relate to. Amish Grace, therefore, should be taken as very good historical fiction, not as history itself, though it will hopefully motivate viewers to learn more about the actual events.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Amish Grace was rated TV-PG. It tastefully addresses the true story of the massacre of Amish schoolchildren by a mentally unstable gunman. The shootings occur off-screen and though the characters see the bodies, the audience does not. Though it contains nothing offensive and is appropriate for families, the film is thematically intense as it deals with the emotional and spiritual aftermath of murder, so parents be aware and ready to discuss the story with mature children.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Forgiveness doesn't mean condoning wrong actions or letting someone escape consequences, it means letting go of bitterness and hate. You can find peace in loving those who've wronged you.
I am not the most religious person on earth, so, to be honest I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this movie! But I did. Powerful movie. I cried a lot and enjoyed it a lot!
Based on the book of the same name, AMISH GRACE is the highest rated original film to appear on Lifetime (as the dvd box states), and this IS worthy of your viewing.
It's a stirring film about grieving and forgiveness set within the confines of Amish life. There's no new ground covered here. They do sidestep many cliches and though certain aspects seem metered out, it's still emotionally satisfying within its explored truths.
It relies on the audience to bring a depth of compassion, and understanding of the losses, so it will easily resonate with those who are open hearted.
It is handled well, and evenly paced, and is rather moving, especially in the face of the true story it's based on:
Several Amish girls are shot and killed in their schoolhouse by a gunman who then killed himself.
Never showing the event itself, it deals mainly with the aftermath of the tragedy.
You likely saw the story on the news a few years ago. The Amish community forgives and offers help to the killer's shocked, grieving wife and children.
(Only mentioned later, the killer and his family had attended a large church themselves.)
Amazing, as is the actual story, there are solid, resonant characters added to explore the emotional wrestling perceived to be within the Amish community.
Not for every taste, but if this sounds interesting to you, you will LOVE it.
4 out of 5 teardrops..
The film is inspired by a true story, the killing of five Amish girls and the maiming of five more at a Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania schoolhouse, in October 2006. Though based on a non-fiction book by one of the most prolific Amish experts, Donald Kraybill's "Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy", the film is partly fictionalised, beginning with the protagonists, the fictional Graber family. I believe the screnwriters needed to create a "relatable" character, one that finds it hard to accept the Amish way of forgiveness, and introduced the issue of shunning, which is discussed in Kraybill's book, but may not have affected any of the real-life people involved in the tragedy.
I thought the film was very moving without being manipulative, that it presented the issues fairly and without being preachy, and that as a whole, it was very well acted, even by the children. Also, it treats the main event in a very sober way, preferring not to show what took place in the schoolhouse (though we are told some of it by eyewitnesses) or any of the mangled bodies. The focus is on the emotional pain of the survivors, and their efforts to apply the Gospel teachings at such a trying time.
I was also glad that the actresses did not wear too much make-up, as Amish women are not supposed to wear any. Lead actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley wears tons of it in most of the photographs you can find on the Internet, and she was much more restrained here. Actually, after seeing all these women with something close to their real faces, it is quite a shock to discover what they look like on most of their commercial photographs. It makes me respect the Amish even more for eschewing all that glitz.
The journalist characters were a bit bland, especially the black cameraman, and I wouldn't have minded a slightly more naturalistic, slighly less romanticised depiction of the Amish, but so far, it is probably the best film I have seen this year.