‘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. © Rissi JC

‘The Russell Girl’: A Journey of Hope and Forgiveness

March 27, 2012 15 Comments

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


‘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. © Rissi JC

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.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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  • Ella March 27, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    I watched this movie a year or two ago.
    It was okay,but I have some other hallmark movies I liked better.

  • Rissi March 27, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    True, this movie is not one of the "happiest" but I thought it was really sweet. I can see where it might seem a bit… off-putting, Ella.

    Off the top of your head, which is your favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame film?

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com March 27, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    I gotta see this. Did you rent it or buy it?

  • Rissi March 27, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Actually I saw this on TV originally, Juju before I then bought the DVD. It is definitely worth seeing. It may be sad, but I really liked it.

  • Ella March 28, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    I cannot believe that I haven't even heard of this one before!! But wow!! That cast is phenomenal!!!!

    I have two HHOF's lined up here coming up: "The Lost Valentine" (which I LOVED) and "Finding a Family" (which I have never seen before)

    Got to love Hallmark, right? ;-)

  • Ella March 28, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Probably It's the Most Wonderful time of the Year!
    I really enjoy Christmas hallmark movies:)

  • jennifer blair March 28, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Aw, this sounds really sweet! I will have to check it out!

  • Rissi March 28, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    Ella – *gasp* You've not see this one?! Get with it, girl! LOL! Just teasing you, Ella.

    This is really sweet, you'll have to check it out – the only "issue" I have with it is its "incomplete" ending. HHofF's do tend more that way – the end left it "open" for the viewer to interpret which isn't a "bad" thing. Hope you enjoy this one.

    Love "Lost Valentine" – so sweet. I've seen Finding a Family promoted on blogs but never did rent it – it is probably good though. Still, I sure do love Hallmark. They have some great productions. =)

    Ella – awwww! I love that movie; seriously, it is one of my very faves. Cliched or not, it is adorable.

    Hallmark + Christmas = fun films!

    Jennifer – it sure is. You should check it out sometime. =)

    Thank you SO much for following me, and commenting; please do so again. I LOVE your blog/photos. It is one of those that if I let myself, I could spend hours on it. You have such a creative eye. =)

    (Now following you on Twitter!)

  • memory March 30, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    I LOVE Hallmark movies. Have you seen the Love Comes Softly series? Great set of movies!

    Thanks for your comment on my week in pictures post last week, Rissi. Oh yes, LOVE McFlurries…and Blizzards too! My favorite is the M&M :)


  • Rissi March 30, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Me, too, Memory. =) Gosh! I remember watching the "Love Comes Softly" series – they were sweet but aside from the first movie, the rest really went downhill in terms of being faithful to the novel. I had to constantly remind myself to watch them without comparing them to their counterparts because if I did I was way disappointed. If I separated the comparisons, all were really good but none managed to charm me like the first one. (I do have them on dvd and should re-watch them all again. I sense a marathon coming. ;-D)

    Gotta love ice cream, right!? =)

  • Hannah Barta April 6, 2014 at 3:47 AM

    Hmm, interesting. I might have look this one up sometime :) I only wish I got the Hallmark channel at my house! That would be so nice. . . .

    • Rissi April 7, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      This film IS interesting, Hannah. Hallmark Hall of Fames are always ambiguous meaning that the conclusions aren't solid most the time leaving it up to the viewer to decide what we want to conclude. That being said, this is actually one of my favorites.

      The Hall of Fame series of movies actually air on ABC. They used to be on CBS before recently moving so as long as you happen to see the promo for their latest (they only put out about three per year), you can catch those on ABC. :)

  • Bonnie Field August 28, 2014 at 2:38 AM

    Haven't heard of this one but I love Hallmark movies and shows so I'll need to check this one out.

    • Rissi August 28, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      It's really good, Bonnie even if its ending (Hallmark Hall of Fame's always do) is more ambiguous than anything. Still, I really enjoyed it. :)

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