The Russell Girl (2008)

Amber Tamblyn, Jennifer Ehle, Henry Czerny, Paul Wesley,
The Russell Girl is a TV movie starring Amber Tamblyn, Jennifer Ehle, and Henry Czerny. Sarah Russell, a 23-year-old aspiring medical school student, visits her family to share some important news but instead finds herself...
  • 6.6 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2020-03-18 Added:
  • Jill E. Blotevogel, Writer:
  • Jeff Bleckner, Director:
  • Andrew Gottlieb, Producer:


7 / 10

Superb Writing, Superb Performances

This is one of the best movies I've seen in years. While the "Matrix" crowd may consider the plot "slow," I consider it natural and unhurried. This movie rests on its WRITING and PERFORMANCE, not fancy graphics, nudity, or profanity. You can watch this show with your 3-year-old.

Two families are caught in a very plausible conflict. There is a lot of judgment, anger, blame, self-loathing, and fear involved. The conflict rises to an almost intolerable level, but then is eventually resolved.

Like many real-life conflicts and wounds, the Russell girl walls herself off in unhealthy denial and self-judgment. The family doesn't help either, with the mother blinding herself to the depth of her daughter's guilt.

True to the self-righteous, self-justified attitude of humans in their worst light, the antagonist (Jennifer Ehle) had deepened the wound for many years, but with the artful interplay of emotions and relationships woven by Blotevogel, the wound is finally punctured and healed.

My hat is off to Jill Blotevogel, Jeff Bleckner, Amber Tamblyn, and all the people involved in making this excellent film.

10 / 10

She's not just the Russell Girl. She has a first name.

Times flies. The last time I saw Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio--well, was when she was Tom Cruise's girlfriend in "The Color of Money". Now, she is playing a mother.

Without giving the plot away, the movie deals with guilt, denial, grief, and loss. Secrets are lethal, and they seem to abound in so many families.

This film is a sumptuous production. Only the likes of Hallmark and Playhouse 90 could offer such a magnificent presentation. There is a stellar cast, brilliant direction, and fine editing. The story is true to life, and naturally slow as the arduous events pull at your heart strings. This is a tearjerker, and you will need at least one box of tissue. Generously pass the Kleenex around because all of the viewers will need them. The timing is just right for some serious issues, there is actually some resolution, and the ending is a myriad of emotional fireworks.

I cannot praise this film enough, and rank it a 10 out of 10. This movie is a definite award winner, and a must see. But, it's not just a film for families. It's a film for singles, and everyone. But, to really appreciate this movie, you must be open to feelings, and be willing to deal with issues. Yes, life can be as difficult, as it can be rewarding. But, with just the right measure of love and support, we can rise to life's joys and its challenges. Bravo!

7 / 10

A sensitive film, yes, but its also a very somber, don't watch it if you are feeling down

Sarah (Amber Tamblyn) left her small town in the Missouri area to live in Chicago. When she was barely out of high school, a tragedy occurred, something Sarah feels was her fault. Her former boyfriend, Evan (Paul Wesley) was heartbroken about the young lady's exit from his life and he moved to Texas, where he became a successful money manager. Although Sarah stays in touch with her parents and younger brother, she remains remote from all who love her for five years. Now, bad news arrives. Sarah learns that she is seriously ill, though doctors tell her she has a chance of recovery. Unhappily, Sarah thinks her sickness is the result of "karma", a tit-for-tat for the accident that happened half a decade ago. So, Sarah heads back to her hometown. Her parents welcome her, but don't give her an opportunity to convey her secret, as they are always rushing here and there. A neighbor woman, Lorraine (Jennifer Ehle) is upset beyond tears, for the tragedy struck her family. No one, not her caring husband or her two teenage sons can help her out of a lingering grief. With Sarah's return, she is shaken to the core. What will be the end result? Meanwhile, Sarah finds that Evan has returned, also, to care for his ailing, widower father. Before long, sparks are flying between them, something Sarah tries to repress since she doesn't know if she will beat her illness. With all of these serious life events unfolding, will there be a way to go beyond the singular happening that changed everyone's lives? This is quite a sensitive film, tackling many deep issues but it is hardly a happy Hallmark movie. Tears will probably fall for all who choose to watch it. The cast is great, with Tamblyn, Ehle, Mary Elizabeth Mastriantonio, Wesley and all of the others doing a great job. The setting is likewise wonderful, a beautiful, well-preserved small city with lovely surroundings. Though the plot unfolds slowly and is told with the aid of flashbacks, it still has a huge amount of courage in its presentation. Therefore, although it is part of the Hallmark collection, its not for all viewers. But, its exploration of tragedy, lingering grief, misplaced blame, guilt and other serious issues makes it a cathartic blessing for some. Act accordingly.

6 / 10

great little performance from Tamblyn

Sarah Russell (Amber Tamblyn) is an associate buyer at Macy's and aspires to get into medical school. She finds out that she has leukemia. She's going home to tell her parents (Tim DeKay, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). She holds off when her parents tell her that she got into Northwestern University. She reconnects with old boyfriend Evan Carroll. There is something dark in the past with her next door neighbors Lorainne Morrissey (Jennifer Ehle) and Howard Morrisey (Henry Czerny). She wonders if her leukemia is karma for past deeds.

The movie is a little too precious with the secret. This is not really a mystery movie. I'm fine with holding off the reveal but it lasts about 10-20 minutes too long. It gets a little annoying that the movie won't say it out loud. Tamblyn delivers a very compelling performance. It's a great little movie after the reveal with Sarah struggling to connect with Lorainne. Jennifer Ehle also gives a great full performance. It never gets too surprising and the movie is a traditional tear-jerker.

4 / 10

So slow that I could not get past first 30min.

If there was a plot, it took more than 30 min to unfold and I was unable to watch any longer. The acting and production was fine but it was such a shame to waste the talent and money to produce this boring script.

The Russell girl (Tamblyn) comes home to share some bad news, presumably that she is about to die of leukemia, and runs into a brooding next door neighbor harboring some grudge from another time. Sarah's mom (Mastrantonio) is so clueless about listening to Sarah's mood that Sarah starts brooding too. Tamblyn's natural brooding is so over used by this script that the first 30 minutes has enough brooding for three or four movies. As scene after scene goes by without disclosure of the root problems, my snooze level rises.

After 30 minutes or so I was done. I was very BORED, and angry that my time and the talents of this great cast were wasted by this director and producer.