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Monday, July 7, 2014

Film Review: The Saratov Approach

The Saratov Approach, 2013, DVD, PG-13, 107 minutes, My Rating=5
Source: I requested from publicist in exchange for an honest review

The Los Angeles Times calls it a "spiritual thriller." The Saratov Approach will take you on a ride of suspense and faith as you experience the true account of Andrew Propst and Travis Tuttle, two young Americans abducted while serving abroad in Russia during the Clinton administration. Propst from Oregon and Tuttle from Arizona take matters into their own hands while the country rallies behind them and prays for their safe return. Only God can save them.

Words defy me but I shall try. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that this splendid independent film comforted this future mother of Mormon missionaries. Yes, you read that correctly, it comforted me. Why on earth did this story of a horrific kidnapping comfort me? It did so because it reinforced my faith in the promised blessings of serving God. The outcome may not always be what we want it to be but in the long run there will be an enriching gift from God for the service. In other words, I’m under no illusion that missionaries will always be safe, that’s why Church members pray for them often. Rather, I was reminded that there is a strengthening power in the testing of faith, both for the missionaries and for those love ones they temporarily leave behind. Hence, this film showed me that trusting God leads to growth.

This heart pounding film was based on a true story about a couple of Mormon missionaries that were kidnapped and held for ransom in Russia in 1998. I had some anxiety about watching this movie since I have high hopes that my children will serve a mission for the LDS Church one day. I worried at the level of danger the film would show and concerned how that would affect me as a mother of potential missionaries. Knowing the good outcome did ease the concern but I still braced myself for the account that would befall the young men and curious how they would come out of the frightening experience.

Wow! I was drawn in from the get go. The initial scene was of the missionaries visualizing an escape plan that involved violence, something hard to imagine a missionary would do but to me suggested the desperation of the situation. Then the movie takes you back to the days leading up to the abduction. At this point, beautiful scenes of the missionaries doing typical service was being portrayed. Then the anticipated terrifying abduction scene fell on screen. Oh my heart. The moment I feared that my children (any child for that matter!) would not go through was up front and center. The dark lighting helped to soften the image of the beating that was happening but the intensity was felt by this alarmed mother. Here we go! The film then continues with the account of the experiences that the missionaries went through leading back to the first scene. We got a good taste of the thought process of their families, community, and the world as well. My particular favorite scene was the empathetic call from the adult character, Mark Larsen, who was kidnapped while he served in Argentina. His words were consoling. At this point I was able to exhale because it foreshadowed a resolution. Later, we come to find a great peace to the tone of the movie. A spiritual enlightening that wrapped up the intense drama.

By the way, the musical score was amazing and fitting. The acting was great, particularly the captors. But, I found Tuttle’s character a bit overdramatic a few times. Finally, the camera presentation was fantastic even with some shaking. It got you up close and personal and therefore invested in the movie.

Brilliant film! I highly recommend.

Haha, words didn’t dismiss me after all. ;)



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