Reading Amish fiction is not where my attention begins or ends. Since the rising arrival of popular authors who write (sometimes exclusively) in the genre, TV films are inevitable. These corresponding films are based on an early series by Beverly Lewis of the same name. They do get lost in flaws, and yet, they’re interesting.
The Shunning (2009) and The Confession (2013) Hallmark TV Film Review
Growing up in Amish country, Katie Lapp (Danielle Panabaker) has a loving, warm home by parents (Sandra W. Van Natta, Bill Oberst Jr.) who have raised her in love. Only now, her father, Samuel is expecting Katie to give up her fanciful musical passions – a passion that goes against the Amish faith, and marry the Bishop. Still mourning the loss of her childhood sweetheart, Katie fights settling into expectations, and finding her own identity. When Katie unearths secrets of her parentage, her fight to learn about herself solidifies when she learns her birth mother Laura (Sherry Stringfield) searches for Katie.
Against her parent’s better judgment but eventually with their blessing, Katie (Katie Leclerc) travels to New York to look for her mother. Armed with her faith and the friendship of Justin (Michael Rupnow), Katie finds herself on a journey that leads to more confessions and finding her place in the world.‘The Shunning’ (2009) / ‘The Confession’ (2013) #FWarchives Click To Tweet
In the fiction market, Amish fiction is popular. In a two-week timeframe, I finally got around to watching these Hallmark productions based on two novels by Lewis. Instead of writing the reviews separately, I’m bundling them together. In cinema form, these adaptations are sweet (haven’t read the books, though my mother did) telling a kind of coming-of-age experience that isn’t done in the usual form of teenage rebellion. Though this omission is refreshing, if you’re looking for faith that inspires, I fail to find any form of affirmation in this script. Sure there’s admirable traits, but I have to bluntly admit, I rarely “see” God in this genre.
Forgiveness is a cornerstone of Christianity. Yet in the subgenre of Amish fiction, it’s increasingly troubling how little forgiveness there is in the culture. This cinematic interpretation does soften the blow. Katie’s shunning is appalling but fortunately, there is some rebuilding of her relationship with her family. Watching this play out doesn’t come across as “helpful” or loving to the person being shunned. Instead it’s one of the more judgmental forms of resentment. What makes it even worse is that the “sins” depiction is something we should care about. Katie has a dilemma most of us can relate to. Perhaps not specifically in learning a secret that shatters, but in living through these, she struggles with her identity and learning who she wants to be. If there is one concession to make regarding this culture, I would say I admire that Katie never wavers from her beliefs. How accurate any of this is of the Amish beliefs, I do not know. But I know that as a Christian, this troubles me.
Seeing two different actresses in the role of Katie was interesting. Believe it or not, I think Danielle did a better job with the role
whereas Katie Leclerc affected a much “sweeter” persona. Each of the supporting performers is good, and play their roles well. Fortunately for the audience, this is a plus since the productions move at a snail’s pace – sometimes painfully so. Contradictive to that statement is that I cannot remember being bored in either film. The first is paced slower with sweet, innocent flashbacks to Katie’s days with her sweetheart. The Confession offers more content and perspective on Katie as a person, and what drives her. We see her life among the Englisher’s and their world.
Fans of Amish fiction or Hallmark movies will enjoy this series. In closing, I will admit to this; even as a viewer who doesn’t respect all of the principles, both of these movies are sweet, and each of them have something special to say.
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