Paradise Recovered: Edited
Esther, a young woman praised for her virtue and devotion, has been given the opportunity of a lifetime. When her fundamentalist Christian sect falls on hard times, Esther finds employment at a local health food store to supplement the group’s income. At the store, Esther gets a chance to share her faith with her new manager, Gabriel, a devout skeptic and preacher’s kid.
The friendship with Gabriel helps Esther determine her human worth while helping to reframe her faith in a whole new light. Paradise Recovered attempts a modern-day retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan while addressing hard questions involving faith, tolerance and spiritual abuse in modern culture.
This movie is about mind control and how that even in Christian circles extreme rigid teaching and manipulative authority takes place in some churches. It seems to be a warning about submitting without thought to authority until you know more about the organization behind the church.
In this case a young woman named Esther (Heather Wallis) lives with Pastor David Sawyer (Andrew Sensenig) and his wife as she cares for their daughter, young Sophie. When son Phillip arrives home from college with a design on entering ministry, trouble soon brews when as enters Esther’s bedroom late one night and encourages her to sleep with him. Pastor David walks in before it gets to that point and throws Esther out of the house on the spot, without first learning exactly what happened.
Esther finds herself in need of a job and is employed by a young health food store manager named Gabriel (Dane Seth Hurlburt) who comes from a Christian home but is skeptical about God and the Bible. Despite some early clashes, Gabriel encourages Esther to think independently and soon she attends a movie for the first time, drinks, and even skinny dips. However, she still wants to please God and is not sure her new lifestyle is the way to do that. Gabriel has allowed her to stay in his home and even throws her the first birthday party she ever had. But when she returns to Pastor David’s household and begins to ask questions about certain topics, she is reprimanded. Ultimately, she has to decide exactly what she does believe. Without giving the ending away, she does retain her faith in God but realizes that the group she belongs to is rigid and unforgiving.
This movie does encourage people to examine carefully any church or group they belong to and to exercise free choice. However, it does portray the pastor as a very angry judgmental man who slams his Bible down and calls Esther “Jezebel” and it would have been nice to have seen more of Gabriel’s father, who was a better example of God’s love, even telling Gabriel he is proud of him for showing the love he did to Esther. In one dramatic scene Gabriel asks Esther if the people at the church loved her which makes her consider the question seriously. This modern “Good Samaritan” story has its moments which encourage thinking, and it does contain some language but this is not gratuitous. We are happy to award this movie about using one’s mind, “Paradise Recovered” (Edited version), our Dove “Family-Edited” Seal for ages twelve plus.