Hallmark Hall of Fame has produced well over two hundred films. Among them, there are comedies, dramas and even some period films. Most are good and some, even superb. The Russell Girl falls among the better films.
The Russell Girl (2008) Hallmark Hall of Fame Review
She has almost lost all hope. Until she returns home. Sarah Russell (Amber Tamblyn) is a small town girl who left after high school without looking back, she’s now a city girl. After she experiences some health problems, she learns she has a rapidly progressing form of Leukemia. Shocked, she decides to go home in order to break the news to her parents (Henry Czerny, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Once there she reconnects with her neighbor (Jennifer Ehle) with whom she has a painful past.
As Sarah eases back into her once carefree life, she finds it difficult to tell anyone the truth. Little does Sarah realize that her ally may be the one woman who’s carried a grudge against her all these years.
The two-hour story that unfolds is heart wrenching but the message is ultimately about learning to accept ones past and future rather than living in and being ruled by their painful past. For several years, my family has watched these productions and believe me, we have seen a number of “iffy” films among them. While this may not go down as a classic, it has become a favorite. Perhaps it’s the story of forgiveness when Sarah feels all hope is gone, the characters or the unique perspective behind the camera in telling the story. Whatever, something connects the audience, and means, The Russell Girl deserves a second look.
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Amber Tamblyn is probably best known for her teen roles such as Joan of Arc. I must confess though my first (and only) introduction to her was in the 2005 Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This is one of Amber’s first roles to transition into more mature roles. She does well in the role; she really seems to embody her character. Another big attention grabber is Jennifer Ehle in a supporting role. Jennifer is, of course from A&E’s Pride and Prejudice. Her emotional performance is heartbreaking but phenomenal. (Also not to be lost in the female actresses is Paul Wesley, star of a popular CW series, and Tim DeKay from White Collar.)
There’s a lot of beauty in this story. Because her past affects her present, Sarah can’t forgive herself without help. She adopts the philosophy that bad things happen to “bad people” as punishment. Surprisingly my favorite scenes come between Sarah and Lorraine, and the quietly tender moments Sarah shares with her high school boyfriend. Most of the scenes are touching and the performances very good (like, the scenes of Lorraine pushing Sarah to tell the truth; we “get” the significance in those moments).
Despite the impact of the story, this isn’t without some humor, which we need in order to balance out the more overwrought moments. While the production isn’t Christian, and no one ever references God to forgive the script has profundity, and deserves thought. We deal with a woman wondering what keeps her husband by her side; a young woman’s journey to discovering blessings; and the hope that comes with the simple words “I forgive you.”
If you’re looking for something that has plot plus good performances, check out The Russell Girl. Just be ready to shed some tears.‘The Russell Girl’: A Journey of Hope and Forgiveness. A review of the 2008 drama with Amber Tamblyn from the Hallmark Hall of Fame series. #Hallmark #Hallmarkies #FWArchives #Drama #Movies @HallmarkDrama Click To Tweet
CONTENT: The most disturbing thing is some mature thematic elements. There is the issue of Sarah’s illness and a scene where a small child falls down a stairway [off-camera]. A girl lies to her family about the life she leads. There is an accident on a freeway; we see ambulances, medical workers and injures, but nothing graphic; emergency workers show up at a house following an accident. The film is TV-PG.