Saving Sarah Cain
by Phil Boatwright

Arriving January 15, 2008 on DVD from Fox Faith, from director/producer Michael Landon, Jr. (The Last Sin Eater, Love’s Abiding Joy) and writer/producer Brian Bird (Touched By An Angel, The Last Sin Eater), and starring Elliott Gould (M*A*S*H) and Tess Harper (Tender Mercies) plus newcomer Lisa Pepper in the lead role.

FILM SYNOPSIS:  When successful, self-absorbed Sarah Cain (Lisa Pepper) travels to Amish country to attend her sister’s funeral, she discovers that she is now the legal guardian to her five Amish nieces and nephews.  Faced not only with instant motherhood, but also with the culture shock of a lifetime, she must decide whether to raise the children in the city or return them to their Amish roots.

PREVIEW REVIEW:  The film is produced by Believe Pictures and Redemption Films.  Well, that’s subtle.  Then, an opening scene has Sarah’s editor chastising his writing staff for their lackadaisical offerings.  I sat there mentally rewriting the actor’s dialogue during this scene.  That’s not a good sign.  More alarms signal this reviewer that he might be in for 90 minutes of lazy and all too familiar storytelling when Sarah’s phone rings at her sister’s funeral.  Oh, please. (I suppose that happens nowadays, but I hate the thought that human beings are so controlled by the ever present mobile phone.)  Despite the production companies’ names, which blare “religious story on the way,” and Elliott Gould’s clunky introduction, gratefully, the film builds into a warm, well-constructed drama, one touched with spiritual themes.  Lisa Pepper, though more pretty than interesting, is adequate in a role we’ve seen done with more likeability by Raising Helen’s Kate Hudson – and several others for that matter.  Here, it’s the kids who win you over.  Neither precocious nor overly cutesy, each is interesting and genuine.  They serve to remind us of the value of being true to yourself and what strength of character is needed when standing for what you believe.

It has a made-for-TV feel, and some may refer to it as the homogenized version of Raising Helen, but it has merit, mainly due to metaphorical theme…one where youngsters are torn away from the life they know and must adapt to a new world.  This is something every new Christian undergoes, and therefore can relate to.  Added to this scenario is the inclusion of faith and values built on biblical principles rather than just humanism.  This actually was handled with subtlety.  Never preachy, it incorporates spiritual beliefs into the child characters, which affect those around them.

I was moved by the kids’ performances, engrossed in the story and awed by the locales, beautifully captured by director of photography Matthew Williams.  It’s a film I’ll watch again.

DVD Specs:  Saving Sarah Cain is presented on DVD in widescreen format (1.78:1 aspect ratio) with English 5.1 Dolby Surround sound with English, Spanish and French subtitles.  DVD special features include Making-Of featurette, deleted scenes and trailers.

PG (the film deals with the loss of parents and children being yanked from their home and moved to a new city and life; the lead’s boyfriend enters her apartment using his own key; this would suggest he sometimes stays there, but there are no sexual situations, indeed, it appears that the lead is chaste; the subject matter may be disturbing to very young viewers; brief teen smoking).