3 Stars — Wholesome

It is easy to find the novelty of Amish Christians as only an interesting divergence of both American and Christian cultures. Having chosen to reject the modern culture with its gasoline vehicles and electronic devices, we often don’t stop to ask the question of whether they have chosen the better way. As our vehicles pollute the air and our electronics distract our souls, we often collapse into the unwanted consequences of modern life. Would it be better if we took the time to be families and communities in shared life, with simple values of honesty and simplicity, where love and souls blossom? That is the theme of Michael Landon Jr.’s film, Saving Sarah Cain.

As the title declares, the film is the journey of a young woman whose life needs to be spiritually restored. A little overbearing at times with a slow pace that matches the Amish way of life, the film presents Sarah (Lisa Pepper) as a newspaper columnist who has become a boring writer. Having reached the pinnacle of syndication with her column appearing in 500 papers, she is now down to writing for only two, with her own editor rejecting her columns. Although Sarah is pursued by Bryan (Tom Tate), who wants to be her husband, she is incapable of trusting him or letting him into her life. In this place of failure, professionally and personally, Sarah receives a phone call from her niece that her sister has died.

As we watch Sarah travel to Pennsylvania from Portland to her sister’s Amish home, we assume Sarah had run away from her Amish upbringing. But it is the other way around. Sarah’s sister had left her behind on the West Coast, married an Amish man and joined his community of faith. Since the two girls were orphans, this decision devastated Sarah and she had not communicated with her sister for years, closing her heart and her soul to everyone.

When Sarah arrives in time for the funeral, she meets her three nieces and two nephews for the first time. Grieving their mother’s loss and having lost their father earlier, there is now a second generation of orphans with Sarah as their only living relative.

Like other films of single women with the unexpected responsibility of raising children, such as Raising Helen, the storyline is predictable. But in this film, the added element of Amish children interacting with modern culture and a modern woman interacting with Amish culture makes it interesting.

Saving Sarah Cain is a tale of redemption. Not unexpected but still celebrated, we journey with her to the place her heart longed to be. It is a place where any person, Amish or modern, longs to live.


When Sarah’s sister taught her to pray and promised always to be together, it is easy to understand how Sarah felt abandoned and rejected by both her sister and God. Have you ever felt abandoned by someone who promised never to leave you? Have you ever felt abandoned by God?

The experience of the children in a modern high school shows how difficult it is to be different when you are a teenager. Did you feel similar pressure to fit in when you were in school? What did you do? Would you do it differently if given the chance to do it again?

Sarah’s decision to write about her real life as guardian of her Amish nieces and nephews and publish her experiences in her columns made her a smashing success. Why do you think this is true? Why would people want to read such a column?

The lie that Sarah lived eventually was discovered. How would you have felt and what would you have done if you had been one of the children? Bryan?

Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.