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Amish Grace (2010)
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Tammy Blanchard, Matt Letscher, Fay Masterson, Madison Mason, Amy Sloan, Darcy Rose Byrnes, Karley Scott Collins, Gary Graham, Eugene Byrd, Madison Davenport
Based on a true story and the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher, Amish Grace chronicles the community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, forever changed when a gunman senselessly takes the lives of five girls in a schoolhouse shooting before taking his own life in October of 2006. What transpires takes the town by storm, as the media descend on the city and criticize its Amish leaders for their notion of unconditional forgiveness and their outreach of support to the gunman’s widow. Through the eyes of a grieving mother, Ida Graber (Kimberly Williams-Paisley; Father of the Bride films, “According to Jim”), and other devastated families, the film explores the Amish community’s astonishing reaction of compassion to the horrific events that shook their town and tested their faith.
Amish Grace (2010) | Review
To Forgive or Not to Forgive
Amish Grace is the story of a milkman Charlie Roberts, played by John Churchill, who lives near an Amish community in Pennsylvania. He is distraught after the death of his daughter at birth. He blames God and figures the way to get even with God is to go to an Amish school and kill the children. Based on true events, the story explores the forgiveness offered to the wife of Charlie who is left with three children. In the process of forgiveness within the Amish community, one of the mothers, Ida Graeber, played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, struggles with forgiveness, especially when her faith community has shunned (a term used within the religious community for ostracizing) her own daughter for leaving the community and marrying outside her faith.
Amish Grace is unfortunately an obvious made-for-television movie. Missing are the typical top actors, and certain film techniques. The good news is that, while many recent made for-TV-movies and series have been quite exceptional, and this isn't quite up to par with many of those shows, it is nonetheless quite a good, well acted, mesmerizing story, and one that is actually quite good for a Cable Network like Lifetime. One of the surprising and appreciated aspects is the respect given to the Amish Community in the filming of the movie, while not compromising some of the appropriate questions about their faith concepts.
The direction provided by Greg Champion is quite good as is the editing by Anita Brandt-Burgoyne. In their work the story evolves quite well, and the truth is, the DVD feature is likely superior to the television story, if for no other reason thanthe ability for the story to move along without commercial interruption. While there are some questions and some holes in the plotline, they are eventually answered and clarification is given.
The primary journey involves two women who were impacted by the events: Amy, the mother whose husband killed the children at the Amish School, and later killed himself, and Ida, an Amish mother whose daughter was killed in the shooting. Bothare women whose faith is important to them. One doesn't know how one could forgive, and the other doesn't know why she should forgive when she has been hurt so much by her own faith community. Their journey to discover their own answers to their faith ultimately brings them together, to a place that isn't easy to arrive at, and a place where most viewers will appreciate. One of the enjoyable things about watching this movie is the progression of the characters and the honesty of how the story is presented. While we see conflicts of faith, and conflicts of belief, we see them in a way where the good and the bad are presented.
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