Redeeming Love Movie Review and Interview with Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis

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Redeeming Love will bring you down, but the love of the characters may give you hope. Based on the best-selling book from Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love is a story about unconditional love. I sat down with the stars of the film, Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis to chat about their experience, including working with Rivers.

I know that Francine Rivers worked with you guys on the screenplay and with DJ Caruso. So was there any input from her in terms of creating these roles? I know they were really heavy.

Tom Lewis – Yeah, I think she had loads of input, especially behind the scenes. What I loved is that when she flew out to South Africa to watch the filming, I was really nervous that she’d give me notes on how to play him. Because I mean, these are characters that she’s brought to life. 30 years ago, she’s living with these people for so long. I remember doing my first scenes in front of her and kind of watching for her reaction and seeing ‘does she like it? Does she know?’ And she was so gracious and so lovely. And just let everybody get on with it. And I think that takes a lot of courage. It’s hard not to control what you’ve written and created. But she was so graceful.

Abigail Cowen – She did. She just kind of sat in the back and watched and it was so kind and very surprising because that was kind of the same way. I felt like ‘oh, my gosh, I hope I’m doing it justice.’

Tom, what were some of your favorite scenes from the film?

Tom Lewis – There’s loads. My favorite scene to watch. And I think was to film actually, was the scene that they [Angel and Michael] first meet, when he first enters the brothel and sees her and they have their first exchange. From the moment they meet, as soon as I read the script, that scene was the scene that I auditioned with, the chemistry between them is undeniable. So it was just beautiful to kind of play off each other, and find that spark that they had.

Tom Lewis in Redeeming Love
RGB tiff image by MetisIP

Abigail, you had mentioned in a previous interview about this being a timeless story. So what are you hoping the audiences are going to take away from the film?

Abigail Cowen – I think there’s so many things that you can take away from this film. Personally, I hope that people walk away from this having more of an insight and understanding around the psychological effects of abuse on people. And I hope that it kind of brings light to a subject matter that isn’t always talked about, that I feel needs to be talked about more. I love that the story doesn’t shy away, and it shows the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I think that’s such an important thing in filmmaking and storytelling, because how else are we supposed to impact people without going there? When I read the script, that’s exactly what it did. I was very impressed. I hope that people walk out with a sense of hope, and maybe peace and a feeling of, especially in these times, that even if it feels like you are surrounded by darkness, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I think that is why it’s timeless.

Tom Lewis – That’s why the script is so good. Because it has that brutality, and it has the harshness of life back then and Angel’s story, but it’s a movie of hope. And it’s a movie of lights, and it’s a movie of strength and resilience. And that’s the kind of core message that I think I definitely took away from watching the movie.Abigail Cowen in Redeeming Love

Abigail, your character Angel, it’s a very heavy storyline, obviously. How do you disconnect from that and decompress at the end of the day after filming those hard scenes? 

Abigail Cowen – Gosh, a glass of wine helps. Yeah, I watched The Bachelor and a glass of wine.

Tom Lewis – I would go between scenes at lunch. I’d like knock on the door and she’d be in there like eating her lunch just watching The Bachelor reruns.

Abigail Cowen – I do like to separate myself. But I think I look at it as, Angel’s story is Angel’s story, and I have the honor and responsibility of telling that and reminding myself that this is a another woman’s story. ‘I’m going to step into the shoes and now I’m stepping out’ is a good tool for me. We had a wonderful crew and set to kind of foster such a safe environment as well. So I felt very at home. So I was definitely comforted and taken care of. It definitely made it a lot easier.Abigail Cowen and Eric Dane in Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love Movie Review

Redeeming Love was a hard pill to swallow when you get down to the nitty-gritty parts of Angel’s story. You can imagine that a child sold into prostitution will be tough not to get emotional about. The film is also pretty long, and just when you think things will get better, they get devastating worse.

The story tears down every wall until your empathy for Angel is overflowing, just like Michael’s love for her. While the book is rooted in Christian fiction as a romantic retelling of the Book of Hosea, the film doesn’t lean as heavily into the faith-based genre as one might think. It still takes on the overall theme of unconditional love though.

The film jumps back and forth in time as Angel tells her story of heartbreak and hardship from an early age. Rejected by her father because she was the product of an affair, on to her mother falling ill and doing whatever she can to survive and provide for her daughter.

Nina Debrov and Livi Birch in Redeeming Love
Nina Debrov and Livi Birch in Redeeming Love

We are then introduced to Eric Dane’s character, the Duke, a pedophile that runs a popular brothel. The horrors that Angel has to endure at this time of her life are unspeakable but also something our world is still actively dealing with. Maybe that’s why this story is a timeless story as Cowen mentioned. Human trafficking and child sexual abuse is still an issue that should have been left in the past.

The chemistry that Cowen and Lewis have on screen is great. Cowen plays Angel in a haunting but numb fashion.

Redeeming Love will be in theaters on January 21st.

About Redeeming Love

Based on the bestselling novel by Francine Rivers, REDEEMING LOVE is a powerful story of relentless love and perseverance as a young couple’s relationship clashes with the harsh realities of the California Gold Rush of 1850. It is a life-changing story of the power of unconditional and all-consuming love. Coming to theaters January 21, 2022, REDEEMING LOVE shows there is no brokenness that love can’t heal.

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