The Garden of Redemption (1997) starring Marta Amaro, Anthony LaPaglia, Embeth Davidtz, Rui Pedro Cardoso, Dan Hedaya, Peter Firth directed by Thomas Michael Donnelly Movie Review

The Garden of Redemption (1997)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Embeth Davidtz and Anthony LaPaglia in The Garden of Redemption (1997)

The Yawn Birds

As the priest of a small town in Italy Don Paolo (Anthony LaPaglia - Empire Records) is well aware of the effect that World War II is having on his community as many can no longer stand idly by and are joining the anti-fascist Partisans, led by Capt. Zito (Dan Hedaya - A Life Less Ordinary). When a close friend of Don Paolo's is killed after helping the partisans ambush a group of Nazi's he decides he must do something and offers his services to Zito and his men. But in doing so it brings him in to contact with Adriana (Embeth Davidtz - Matilda) an attractive woman who he starts to have feelings for which puts him into even more emotional conflict over his vows to the church.

I could walk into a Hollywood office and pitch "The Garden of Redemption" as an examination of religious beliefs during a time of war when even those who preach the good word are tested by the brutality which they see around them. But I doubt they would buy it as whilst a movie about a priest's moral conflict during WWII would be fascinating it wouldn't be entertaining in a mass appeal way. So what you get instead with "The Garden of Redemption" is an elaboration on that, a priest who feels he must act to support the partisans but in doing so finds himself confronted by another moral conflict as he has feelings for an attractive woman.

Sadly a movie about a priest who ends up attracted to a woman is not as interesting or original and that makes "The Garden of Redemption" a little cliche. But what is surprising is that director Thomas Michael Donnelly chooses not to go down the melodramatic route but a far quieter route with a slow, unravelling story. Unfortunately the lack of melodrama is replaced by nothing making it just a slow and sadly dull movie which you find yourself longing for some excitement to pep it up.

The knock on effect of this slowness is that both the central characters of Don Paolo and Adriana end up surprisingly dull. Don't get me wrong as LaPaglia and Davidtz both act their parts but the script never allows them to really bring to life their characters under the weight of the slow script.

What this all boils down to is that "The Garden of Redemption" failed to do it for me due to its slow nature making it surprisingly dull and