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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

House Arrest

Plain Truth on IMDb

Plot Overview

sleeping womanAmish milkmaid Katie Fitch (Alison Pill) suffers troubled dreams of her dead sister Sarah (“I tried to save her, but she drowned.”) They were close … still are if you believe in ghosts. When Katie falls pregnant she tells no-one except her night-creeping sister. She goes through denial, then when her clothes don't fit, she forces her­self not to think about it. She wanders out to the slew when she goes into labor. “I laid down, and I must have fallen asleep, because when I woke up, the baby was gone. And I thought God had finally listened and taken him back, and it was a miracle.” You wish.

family dinnerThe police arrive with the paramedics to retrieve the non-breathing “miracle,” and they take a hemorrhaging Katie to the hospital where medical tests confirm her recent delivery. Forensic examination shows the infant may have been suffocated. Katie is arrested forth­with. Katie's great aunt, formerly Amish, Leda (Catherine Disher) implores her friend Ellie Harrison (Mariska Hargitay,) a white-collar defense attorney, to take the case. The judge (Jeremy Akerman) in lieu of bail appoints Ellie as in-house guardian of her low-flight-risk, Amish client.

Ellie was fed up with defending sleazeballs she knows are guilty but must proclaim their innocence to make the judicial system work. Now she must defend a sweet client who adamantly denies having a baby despite all the proof. The girl's shrink Dr. John Cooper (Jonathan LaPaglia) says such denial is “not all that uncommon.” Katie's dad Aaron Fitch (Jan Niklas) says Katie couldn't have been pregnant, because she wasn't even married. Katie's boy­friend Adam Sinclair (Christopher Ralph) says she couldn't have had a baby because they'd never had sex—Ellie believes the clueless sap. The D.A. George Calloway (Robert Bockstael) posits that Katie snuck out at night and behaved like any red-blooded, American teenager. Ellie springs a surprise witness: the back­door man. Katie wants to take the stand.


What we have is an advocate in the “Englisher world” with a “code of professional ethics” working with a maiden of “the Amish way.” In terms of guidance, parental or other­wise, my reader may feel disinclined to hold forth on shyster tactics or cult practices, but most people have no qualms having their children behave as ladies & gentlemen, and there is a great deal of overlap among these systems, as per author William Thackeray:

I am a gentleman and can see no reason why I should be ashamed of it, and I adhere to the code of a gentleman and expect those I consort with to do the same. If that sounds pompous pause a minute—what do I mean by “gentleman”? Not an aristocrat—you know perfectly well I am not an aristocrat—nor a wealthy man—wealth cannot buy manners—but simply a man who lives as a Christian and practises the virtues of truth, modesty and chivalry to the best of his ability. A gentleman does not cheat, a gentleman does not lie, a gentleman does not take advantage of others, a gentleman does not push him­self—oh there is no end to the high ideals of a gentleman but in fact no gentleman could define exactly what quality is at the core of being a gentleman—he simply knows it. (146)

The Amish man-of-the-house questions the lawyer about her faith, “Are you Catholic, Methodist?” to learn she hasn't got one, “I just have a conscience.” One glaring difference between an English conscience and a Christian faith is in the realm of premarital sex: verboten to any Christian, but Ellie has serial, live-in boyfriends six months at a time without it troubling her conscience, and one of her exes Cooper has got divorced after three years without it troubling his.

That said, in the matter of boyfriends, whom will Katie eventually marry? There's her intended Adam whom she's known since child­hood. He is of the same faith, and is her “future” though her physical attraction to him is minimal—they fight over her not kissing him good-night. And there's her black-sheep brother's friend Samuel Stoflus (Andrew Martin-Smith) with whom the sparks fly. So the one whom she loves is not even Christian, let alone Amish, but her intended is of the same faith but not attractive to her. The Amish in this picture are not conceited, they do not set their primitive life­style as better than others', it's just theirs. Different churches will treat Katie's dilemma differently, and this movie doesn't judge and neither should we. We all should look for our answer in the Bible, of course, but which version? Two different ones are quoted from in this movie.

1 Corinthians 7In its early days in Corinth, Christianity would have been perceived as a Jewish cult, and planned marriages in the pipe­line would be honored whether or not they were mixed. It was seven years from the start of Paul's preaching in Corinth to when he wrote his answering letter about them from Ephesus:

According to Pastor Criswell, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.
Date: First Corinthians was written in the spring, probably in 57 a.d., though it could have been as early as 54 a.d. Second Corinthians was written some six months later. In 50 a.d. Paul reached Corinth on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-4). In an eighteen month stay (Acts 18:9-11) [and then some (Acts 18:18)] a church was established. … He had received questions from the Corinthians (1Cor. 7:1) and wrote the letter known as First Corinthians as an answer to those questions. At the time, Paul was in Ephesus (1Cor. 16:8), near the end of his three-year stay there (Acts 20:31) and before his departure for Macedonia (1Cor. 16:5, Acts 20:1).

From visionary Maria Valtorta, 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day: (430)

II In the Mosaic religion matrimony is a contract. In the new Christian religion let it be a sacred indissoluble act, on which may the grace of the Lord descend to make of husband and wife two ministers of His in the propagation of the human race. From the very first moments try to advise the consort belonging to the new religion to convert the consort, who is still out of the number of the believers, to enter and become part of it, to avoid those painful divisions of thought, and consequently of peace, that we have noticed also among our­selves. But when it is a question of believers in the Lord, for no reason what­soever what God united is to be dissolved. And when a consort is Christian and is united to a heathen, advise that consort to bear his/her cross with patience, meekness and also with strength, to the extent of dying to defend his/her faith, but with­out leaving the consort whom he/she married with full consent. This is My advice for a more perfect life in the matrimonial state, until it will be possible, with the diffusion of Christianity, to have marriages between believers. Then let the bond be sacred and indissoluble, and the love holy.

The apostle Paul looked upon mixed marriage as an occasion for Christian influence on the unbelieving spouse, (1Cor. 7:16) “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” Paul's answer in addressing such questions of the Corinthians appears to have been in the present tense, regarding an existing marriage of a Christian to an unbeliever, but he allows for such influence on an unbeliever to apply to developing composites as well, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … things present, or things to come; all are your's.” At any rate there was inevitable opportunity for mixed marriages to have occurred during those seven years, and Christians marrying non-christians would have been included in the permission intrinsic in Paul's answer.

College News

Paul leaned towards encouraging the single, unmarried life. He describes a man's situation regarding worldly cares intrinsic to matrimony: (1Cor. 7:32-33) “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” Single Adam was plugging away at his Amish duties. Katie's brother Jacob decided, “I'd go to college rather than stay on the farm.” His friend down the hall appreciated Katie's “normal” attire wearing jeans and a provocative blouse. He had her watching TV with him, and eating Chinese food (and hoagies,) a precursor of the care a husband gives a wife.

Paul's advice to married men is, (1Cor. 7:29-31) “the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” A married man has got to give God some place regardless.

discipleshipA married woman has similar constraints. (1Cor. 7:34) “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” Paul advises, in the case of the widow that, (1Cor. 7:39) “she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” That is when married, to whom­ever she wills, she is to put some priority on “car[ing] for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit,” irrespective of whom she marries.

held BibleA word on Bible translation. Bishop Stoflus (Colin Fox) quotes in his eulogy from, (Psalm 23:1) “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” That's the same in most any translation except the ultra-modern ones. Its elegance cannot be matched, and it's short enough not to infringe on copy­rights. He goes on in the KJV to, (Psalm 23:5) “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Thou is a singular pronoun applying to one shepherd. Updated bibles use you that can be either singular or plural, but we can figure it out, at least here we can.

Bible in handAaron reads from a different Bible in the home, which in the KJV would be, (Deut. 20:1-2) “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people—” Here a singular thee or thou is a synecdoche whereby one person (the leader) stands for the whole (people.) Aaron's Bible uses you, which yields the same result but with­out the more elegant style. When we get down to, “when ye are come nigh unto the battle,” the plural ye refers to the people, and Aaron's you is less precise, but we can figure it out.

In Paul's discussion of marriage here, if he wanted to categorically forbid mixed unions, he would have said, “Be thou not unequally yoked together with an unbeliever,” using the singular form as, (1Cor. 7:7) “every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” Instead, he uses the plural form in a-whole-nuther epistle discussing church body life, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers—”

The context of Paul's “not unequally yoked” statement includes, (2Cor. 6:11-13) “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.” Paul was expansive towards the Corinthians and laissez faire regarding their mate selections. They in return had been self-constricted. Unfortu­nately, when the modern Bible versions leave a ‘you’-under­stood in the expression to “be not unequally yoked,” the uptight reader mentally inserts a singular ‘you’ in the phrase, being “straitened in [his] own bowels”, and forbids such a religiously mixed marriage. But the couple who even gets that far to consider it has then the option of exploring whether or not it would work, as they did in this movie. Unfortunately, a couple's usual season of court­ship occurs in their youth when they've yet to master Bible translations. Instead, they rely on what Bible they hear used in their church or fellow­ship, or sister congregations for that matter. That's why I feel it's important to use the King James Version (KJV), or at least make it under­stood that these modern versions should be checked against it.

Production Values

” (TV Movie 2004) was directed by Paul Shapiro. Its screenplay was written by Matthew Tabak, based on Jodi Picoult's 2001 novel, Plain Truth. It stars Mariska Hargitay, Alison Pill and Jan Niklas. Pill had an amazing range as a troubled teenager in a demanding church, torn between two fellows. Kate Trotter was the quintessential suffering mom, making us appreciate all mothers. Colin Fox playing a bishop and Jeremy Akerman a judge were fine father figures. The other actors were good in a high school play kind of way. Jodi Picoult, author of Plain Truth, and her family were on set as Amish extras.

The film was certified TVPG. It had bloody clothing in it and the beginning of a seduction scene. The women were fully clothed and then some. It was framed for television, not the big screen. The repartee was unnaturally clever, as if they wanted to keep the audience glued to the set until the commercials hit. The dialogue was literary style not folksy—it was based on a book. The simple life was made to look appealing; in fact it's hard work if you're not born into it. Technical flaws can be ignored. It was filmed in Toronto and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Runtime is 1½ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I spent a number of years in Christian communes in the Jesus movement, so movies like this one have a special place in my heart, but it can be appreciated by all kinds of Christians and nonchristians alike. Its bulk is bonding between broads making this a chick flick. I was touched by it more than I've been by bigger productions. I heartily recommend it.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Chick flick. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Unless otherwise stated, scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Thackeray, William Makepeace. Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman. Copyright © 1978 by editor Margaret Forster. London: Martin Seckler & Warburg Limited, 1978. Print.

Valtorta, Maria. 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day. in The Gospel as Revealed to Me. Vol. 5. Translated from Italian by Nicandro Picozzi, M.A., D.D. Revised by Patrick McLaughlin, M.A. This 2nd English Edition has now replaced the First English Edition, The Poem of the Man-God. Web.