Monday, March 29, 2010

Amish Grace Poor Retelling of Lancaster Tragedy Unforgiveable

The peaceful Amish community of Nickel Mines is forever changed when a gunman senselessly takes the lives of five girls in a schoolhouse shooting before taking his own life. What transpires afterward takes the community by storm, as the media descend on the town and criticize its Amish leaders for their notion of unconditional forgiveness of the shooter and their outreach of support to his widow, Amy Roberts Tammy Blanchard. Devastated by her daughter’s death, Ida Graber Kimberly Williams-Paisley finds herself struggling with her community’s belief in the transcending power of forgiveness.

Amish Grace

Filmed in Los Angeles by Larry A. Thompson Organization. Executive producer, Thompson; producers, Kyle A. Clark, Marta M. Mobley; director, Gregg Champion; writers, Sylvie White, Teena Booth, based on the book by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, David L. Weaver. Ida is tormented by the demands of her faith, which calls for forgiving those who have sinned against them -- a tenet articulated by her husband Matt Letscher, also quite good, even as he struggles with his own grief.

Amish Grace

“Amish Grace,” the story of the 2006 shooting at an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, begins with a disclaimer that acknowledges the cable movie is based on a true story but “certain events and characters have been fictionalized, including the Graber family,” the primary focus of the film. This is the primary problem with “Amish Grace”: it uses a sledgehammer, shunning nuance the way the Amish avoid using electricity.

But there’s nothing graceful about “Amish Grace,” a paint-by-numbers cable movie whose telecast may well prove the wisdom of an electricity-free way of life. I read an article recently about the Lifetime brand struggling with its identity; it doesn't know whether to be the hip network that airs "Project Runway" or the women-in-jeopardy, serious drama network that skews a little older.

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