Half of a good film
Sarah's Choice starts well but concludes too simply
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In many ways Sarah's Choice represents the progress Christian production companies are making in producing faith-infused films and the long way they still have to go.
First, the good. I have often wondered where it says that every Christian-made, Christian-targeted film must be populated with former stars of the '70s and '80s. Of course, I rejoice that my preteen heartthrob Mike Seaver grew into a man on fire for the Lord, and I'm proud to call Captain Stubing my brother, but many a movie would have benefitted from their being replaced with lesser-known performers who were more appropriate to the roles. Sarah's Choice avoids this pitfall.
Newcomer Rebecca St. James turns in a subtle and affecting performance as Sarah, a single career woman dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. As her immature boyfriend, Matt, Julian Bailey is equally believable. His portrayal of a guy who believes sports betting and pyramid schemes are his ticket to the big time will be recognizable to any young woman who's spent time on the dating scene. And when Mr. Eight Is Enough himself, Dick Van Patten, does appear, it is in a small and suitable part.
The script lives up to its talented cast for about the first half. The hard choices women face when combining a career with motherhood are dealt with realistically, revealing that while it's possible to have both, the two are never really "balanced." As her friend Megan points out, if Sarah doesn't terminate her pregnancy, she will still have a job, but she won't have the same career flexibility and can't expect to bring in the same salary.
Unfortunately that promising beginning is squandered when the story slides into the trap of over-simplifying and oversentimentalizing that characterizes so many Christian films. After accurately setting up the arguments for abortion in the first half, the film shrugs off the challenge of responding to them. Sarah is presented with two possible futures, one in which she has a beautiful daughter or one in which she dies alone.
I have several friends who have had abortions at some point in their lives, and every one is now married with children. However, the families they have now do not negate the loss and guilt they suffer as a result of their choice. It would have been more difficult for the filmmakers to portray that reality, but far more honest.
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