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Redeeming Love Reviews Are Here, See What Critics Are Saying About The Romantic Drama

Angel and Michael Hosea are shown in Redeeming Love.
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

With Redeeming Love, director D.J. Caruso tackles the emotional romance portrayed in the 1991 Francine Rivers best-seller of the same name, bringing the book’s California Gold Rush-era tale to the big screen. The sweeping romance gives a Western-style makeover to the biblical book of Hosea, on which the story is loosely based. Critics have had a chance to review the film before it hits theaters January 21, so let’s take a look at what they thought of this romantic drama.

Redeeming Love stars Abigail Cowen as Angel, who was sold into prostitution as a child, and Tom Lewis as Michael Hosea, who falls in love at first sight with Angel as an adult, vowing to give her the life she deserves. Angel’s past continues to haunt her, however, against the backdrop of 1850s California. The film also stars Logan Marshall-Green, Famke Janssen, Nina Dobrev and Eric Dane. Let’s see what the reviews have to say. 

Starting with our own CinemaBlend review, Sarah El-Mahmoud gives Redeeming Love 1.5 stars out of 5, saying the main characters lack chemistry — through no fault of Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis.  The film adaptation has no charm and is missing passion, leaving its characters feeling one-dimensional, despite the talented cast. 

Overall, the problem with Redeeming Love seems to be how poorly it was adapted from book to screen. Book adaptations work the best when there’s a distinct vision being created that can allow for a story to live in live-action in a different way than it breathed on the page — but that is not something that is ultimately accomplished here.

Nicole Ackman of Next Best Picture struggles to understand the movie’s genre and intended audience, as the Christian historical romance about a prostitute deals with subject matter that isn’t easy to watch. She rates it 2 out of 10.  

The film's strong Christian focus and unpleasant sordid content — including child trafficking and incest — seem like they might manage to alienate any and all potential audience members in the process.

The fact that Redeeming Love is biblically based while trying to be explicit is noted by Robert Kojder of Flickering Myth, who rates the film 1 star. He says, similarly to other critics, that the film fails to develop its lead characters. 

Neither of these characters are seriously explored, so the sensitive material comes across as ill-advised and mishandled (not to mention the camera work takes on a male gaze lens whether Angel is making love for business or pleasure, going to hilarious extremes blocking nudity of everyone involved while trying to be explicit). Everything about Redeeming Love is wrongheaded.

Joseph Aberl of Murphy’s Multiverse, however, thinks the seemingly bizarre genre-mashing makes for an unexpectedly dark spin on a classic romance.  

Redeeming Love surprised me in telling a strong yet dark story that offers a glimpse of hope through the power of unconditional love. It doesn’t fall back on classical conventions of what you expect from a romance story, and while I believe Lewis‘ Michael could’ve done with a bit more fleshing out, the tale told is carried by Cowen‘s performance as Angel.

Tessa Smith of Mama’s Geeky gives Redeeming Love 3 out of 5 stars, noting that even though the story is based on the Book of Hosea, it can still be enjoyed by non-religious viewers like herself. However, the movie overall could have used a bit more editing, Smith says, as a run time of over two hours isn’t needed to tell its story. 

The biggest problem with Redeeming Love is that it goes on far too long. I know that it is based off of a book, so it is trying to hit all the major plot points, but the back and forth of will she or won’t she only gets annoying and redundant over time. For this movie to clock in at over two hours is completely unnecessary.

The critics seem mixed on this one, with some saying Redeeming Love gives a unique perspective on unconditional love, while others think it didn’t do enough to properly adapt the best-selling novel it’s based on. Redeeming Love hits theaters Friday, January 21. Be sure to check out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what other films are coming soon. 

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.