Watching A Horrible Ruth Movie: A Journey of Faith

Cover of The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith by PureFlix DVD cover

 

Dang, Pureflix! Back at it again with the horrible Bible movies.

Today I’ll be reviewing (mostly critiquing) Pureflix’s 2009 film “The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith.”

Grab your grandma and your mother-in-law, cuz those are the only people who are going to love this glorified chick flick.

I sat down to watch this with my wife, my dad, and my grandad after borrowing it from my own mother in law…

ironic, no?

This might seem normal to you, but I can assure you there is a lot of differing perception in three generations of Boothe Bible movie watching.

Main Plot

In case you’re not familiar with the Book of Ruth, it’s a book of the Bible in the old testament. It’s about an Israelite family who travels to the foreign land of Moab because of the famine in their homeland.

More specifically, it’s about a widow named Ruth and the relationship she has with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Oh yeah, and Ruth’s new hunk, Boaz. It’s a love story, they say.

Anyway, the family of Elimelech travels to Moab in search of food and ends up staying a good ten years… long enough for Elimelech himself and his sons to die, leaving their wives behind. Naomi then decides to travel back to Bethlehem, and Ruth goes with her.

It’s a risk for Ruth to go back to Bethlehem, her being foreign and all. But then she meets Boaz and the plot just thickens from there.

Of course, the movie can’t just tell this story as its own story. It has to have a narrator, right? So the film actually starts out with a young boy… little Boaz? No, maybe that’s.. Oh, David. Right, because David is descended from Ruth.

Young David is discouraged and a wise old man decides to tell him a story to cheer him up. Woohoo! Thanks, old man! Now we have a narrator! Of course, the few scenes with David have nothing to do with the rest of the movie. Whatever.

Biblical Accuracy

Photo of a magnifying glass held over a Latin BibleI gotta admit, I wasn’t sitting in front of the screen with my Bible out on this one. First, it’s hard for me to pay attention to a movie with my nose in a study Bible. I also didn’t have my study Bible with me.

Beyond that, this movie was so boring I got tired of making fun of it about fifteen minutes in. I felt the need to play a game on my phone instead.

That being said, at the time I recalled that the movie was surprisingly close to the scriptural account of Ruth. Now that I’m sitting here with my favorite study Bible in front of my computer, I’m still surprised.

Of course, there is some added dialogue and junk to flavor the cinematic impression (if only). For example, Ruth’s actual mother (not mentioned in the Bible) is a very passive aggressive pagan.

Production Quality

This is the most embarrassing part of the film and what makes it so bad. I’m pretty sure the actresses are from a local soccer mom’s Sunday school (with the makeup to match). The costumes are basically flip flops and bedsheets. Brand new, clean bedsheets on poor, working class farmhands.

The mechanical aspects of the cinematics are decent. Scene transitions, camera angles, even the video quality. The music is pretty, but I’m thinking it’s probably not an original score and instead something used from a subscription service.

But a pretty picture doesn’t necessarily tell a good story, and neither does bad acting. I would think there are enough desperate hopefuls out there to get at least one decent lead role. Theater major college students? A high school drama department? Anything.

The actors are all obvious church people. And I don’t blame them for not being able to act. After all, it’s apparently more important to have recognizable Christian names in a movie than recognizable talent.

Gleaning Wheat, or Corn?

nothing-but-cornThen comes the overall setting, bad writing, and quirky plot points. When Naomi and Ruth are on the road to Bethlehem, they are by themselves with no supplies.

No pack animal. No caravan. Not even a rucksack, a satchel, purse, fanny pack, nothing. Just one waterskin which apparently Naomi (who had made the same trip in reverse before) apparently thought was enough.

At one point there are workers gleaning in what is supposed to be a harvested wheat field. Hah! It’s overgrown grass on a hill. And Boaz confidently walks out with what is either corny idiocy or decidedly clever irony and says “Ahh… look at all this wheat!” I must admit my wife and I got a good laugh and an inside joke out of that one.

If you want an easy editing project for film school, this would be the movie to pick. You could make this movie so much better simply by cutting it in half or more. It’s so slow moving that you can take a bathroom break without missing anything. And I mean #2.

So much of the dialogue is drawn out, repetitive and trite. Naomi is bent over crying to God in one scene… then in the next she’s bent over crying with Ruth. It’s easy to lose your place. It’s just awful. Most of the time, it’s not even laughably awful.

Ladies Only?

Sadly, this is another one of those Christian flicks that reminds me of pukeworthy Hallmark or Lifetime channel romances. There is so much crying… and so much crying together… it just has to be romantic!

But it’s not even convincingly emotional. I had nothing to connect to the characters, no reason to care about them. They were stiff, formal, and inauthentic.

All the crying, all the heartfelt woman-on-woman conversations indicate to me that it’s just another movie aimed at old people and Christian women. Women in their mid-forties looking for family-friendly movies that are safe for the little ones. Women named Becky.

Annoyance. There is that typecast again. Seems like all women’s Biblical studies are based on either Esther, Ruth, or Mary. Ruth and Esther, of course, are also two Biblical books dedicated solely to women! Right? Right??? Wrong.

There is so much more you can do with a story like this to make it appeal to more people. I mean, kudos to Pureflix for knowing their target market and all. But you can’t reduce the gospel (or even OT books like Ruth) to middle-aged or older suburban women. Not even with movies.

Takeaway

Only buy this movie if you:

  1. Love crappy movies or specifically crappy Christian movies
  2. Love making fun of said crappy movies
  3. Are looking for a gift for aunt Becky, grandma Becky, or your mom
  4. Need to be able to sleep as quickly as possible
  5. Require white noise with lots of crying

Feeling brave? Go ahead and check it out. It’s probably worth the benefit of the doubt and chances are I’m being a little overly critical.

If you have seen it or end up watching it because of my review, leave me a comment to let me know what you thought of it.

In the meantime, take a look at all the wheat.

4 thoughts on “Watching A Horrible Ruth Movie: A Journey of Faith

  1. Hmmm. Well you are RIGHT about how slow moving the movie is, but I must remind you it has an addition– Obed and David to start and end the story. That’s one thing the “grannys” need to look up. The next part is: It’s up to reader to pick up on these characters so, they (the movie producers) did just that. And it isn’t a field of grass because they did not “sew” wheat the way we do now a days. That being said, it’s probably true for part of it. For example the “kinsman redeemer” is NOT named so who knows where that came from, and Boaz had plenty of land so it didn’t matter if the baby’s name was Obed to keep the line open to King David. But, yawn, it was a little slow!

    • The movie definitely had it’s positive points and closeness to the scriptural account is certainly one of them. However, this Ruth movie not only fails to live up to industry standard but also to any artistic standard at all. I think the acting and poor script were the worst parts. A few revisions to make the story more compelling and some more skilled acting would have made it so much better. Like I said, even paying some local college actors probably would have been better than the chosen cast.

      I admit, I am quite harsh on this movie. Perhaps I should not be complaining about the quality since it follows scripture decently. But I expect Bible movies to pull me into the world the story takes place in. I want them to bring the Bible to life. I also want it to get a message across without being preachy or sounding like someone dully reciting scripture. This movie didn’t deliver…

  2. That’s a good point! You say “I want to get the message across without being preaching or sounding like someone dully reciting scripture”. This is the way I would like to see the movie too.

    • I definitely think that’s an issue with most Christian movies. Too many Christian filmmakers seem to think they have to have a direct and overt speech about redemption in every work. The problem is that the media of film is very “show don’t tell” oriented. Instead of having a character tell me about Jesus in an awkward and trite manner, show me authentically the work in Christ in that character. We don’t have a lot of compelling story in Bible movies. :/

Leave a Comment