The Shunning by Michael Landon Jr. (Director)
Type: Amish, Drama
Basic Plot: Katie Lapp is an Amish girl about to marry the bishop, but secrets that her family has been hiding from her change her entire perspective on life.
Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The plot had a different timeline and events than the book, so much so in some ways that I wonder how the next movie will match the book. Some events are the same and the general feel of the movie is the same, but other events and their order and way are completely different. I would like to say it has the spirit and frame of the story but a slightly different telling of it. The only poor scene was the discovery of the dress, in my opinion, as it seemed like Katie just randomly wandered in the attic and found her dress in an almost purposeful manner. Other than that, scenes were pretty natural. I liked that most of the reveal was left near the end of the movie, while the book reveals quite a lot near the beginning and middle. It also ended well, making a sequel very possible without feeling like there was serious unresolved plot content.
Acting: 3/5 Above Average: The acting was about believable and realistic, especially some of the middle aged women. The characters spoke with an accent, which some may find annoying, but others may find perfectly fine. The main characters were able to keep a strong accent, though sometimes in emotional scenes it would waver or tend to disappear. The only actress who kept a pure accent despite emotional scenes (in my opinion) was Katie’s mother.
Costumes and Scenery: 3 /5 Above Average: Since I have had times in my life where I lived near the Amish, I know how they dress. Some of the costumes wear inaccurate in shape, and some even included buttons, something that Amish are not allowed to wear. The head coverings were definitely accurate though. I feel like some of the boys hair made them look like boy band members in Amish clothes, though, and Katie was sometimes noticeably wearing light makeup. The only huge disappointment was that neither Katie nor her mother had red or auburn hair or even a strawberry blond. Later I saw an extra that did have the flaming red hair Katie was supposed to have, while the books said no one else in the town had a red headed child.
Scenery was simple for Amish scenes and not overdone in the English ones. It was believable in the right ways, looking like homes that one could or does live in, or stores one has gone to.
Moral: 2 /5 More Toned Down Moral: The moral was more toned down in the movies, probably because the author could not explain character’s internal battles as much. Though the movie was more trying to tell a story than a moral, I believe the moral that can easily be seen is that lying has terrible consequences. Katie’s mother hides a secret from her daughter for years and even tries to prevent certain things Katie wants because of her insecurities. As a result, Katie leaves the Amish and is shunned.
Overall: 3 /5 Above Average: I think this is a good movie of the book, but I think it could have been better in some of the costumes and more accurate. The movie was good in its own way, though I wonder how the sequel will work with some of the information missing. I believe Christian families, though especially girls, will like it.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Suggestive: Some of the shirts the characters wear may be considered a little low, though little to no defined cleavage or curvature is shown. A girl gets pregnant outside of marriage. A boy kisses a girl on the cheeks, and a boy and girl kiss on the lips, all unmarried, though not passionately.
Violence: 1/5 One Incidence: A woman cuts her finger.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 Some Misuse: God’s name is taken in vain three times (though that does depend on perspective, such as “Thank God!” in a more flippant sense than a Christian.)
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Emotional and Slightly Intense Content: There is mention that a horse may soon “give up the ghost.” Descriptions like “will get you shot” and “old graves” are used. A woman is dying of a disease. It is mentioned that she passed out and had surgery. A man is mentioned to have died in a boating accident. A woman gives birth to a child who dies immediately from heart problems, and there is mention of them never having children again and that past children had died. In a rage, a man destroys a guitar. Characters cry or on the brink of crying for various regions, though emotional or sad nothing overly dramatic is done. Blood is briefly seen after a woman cuts her finger, and it is later seen bandaged.
Religious Issues: 1/5 Brief Suggestion: Katie goes to an Amish confession, though doctrinally wrong it is not like the Catholics or creepy and cultish feeling, and characters wear head coverings. A girl talks to a man that is presumed dead, hinting it was a dream, ghost, vision, or even her talking to herself.
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: A woman mentions that her mother drank and did drugs. Women wear pants. A boy pretends to play an air electric guitar. There is some music with a beat and light rock/punk music played a few times for background music or listened to by Katie in secret.
Overall: 1/5 All Ages Appropriate: Besides some of the drama regarding pre-marital birth, I think this movie is recommendable for just about anybody.