Passionflix’s latest film in the Gabriel’s Inferno series by Sylvain Reynard, Gabriel’s Redemption: Part One, is out now, and while I was looking forward to this, it wasn’t my favorite one. Don’t get me wrong. I do think that Passionflix has done a great job with bringing the Gabriel books to life, and they found the perfect Julianne and Gabriel in Melanie Zanetti and Giulio Berruti. However, It just felt like the execution of this particular film was a bit off.
Adapting any book for the big screen can be challenging, and sometimes there are adaptations you could even say are better just being left as books. That’s almost how I felt about Gabriel’s Redemption: Part One. As someone who has read the Gabriel series, I can honestly say that if Director Tosca Musk had wanted to, she probably could have stopped with Gabriel’s Rapture: Part Three once Julia and Gabriel were married.
I do understand that other fans of this series want to see it all the way through, and that’s fine, but for me, the wedding with the “Happily Ever After” was the conclusion any fan could ask for. All of the films released in this series had enough conflict and drama to carry on a story that we could continue to enjoy and invest in and then be given a lovely fairytale ending to close it out. It feels at this point with Gabriel’s Redemption: Part One that we are just dragging out a story that’s done.
In Gabriel’s Redemption: Part One, Julia and Gabriel Emerson have left Toronto, where he was a Professor, and are now living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gabriel is working as a professor at Boston University, while Julia is attending Harvard to get her Ph.D. They are newlyweds, and Gabriel is ready to start planning a family. This presents a bit of drama for the couple because Julia is trying to focus on her Ph.D., and the last thing on her mind is becoming a mother so soon.
In addition to the stress of a husband who wants to see his wife pregnant, Julia is also dealing with the stress of her Graduate program. Julia has been asked to present an academic lecture at Oxford, and the pressure is getting to her. When she shares what she plans to present, Gabriel is upset and feels she’s somehow challenging his work because her research conflicts with his own. That causes a fight between them, but it’s wrapped up so quickly that you don’t care. Not to mention it’s a petty argument because Julia has done the research, but Gabriel was, as he puts it, “being an ass.”
As I said, some stories are better left in books than on the big screen because I did not feel that this storyline even presented a whole lot of drama that translated on screen. Once Julia and Gabriel get past that “fight,” they head to England for her to present her paper. Once there, they run into their nemesis Christa “Fucking” Peterson (Margaux Brooke), and a few other people from their past. Is it dramatic? Ehhhhh, not really. It’s more of this thing you watch and think, “You haven’t moved on from this yet?” Brooke is entertaining as she does her bitchy act of trying to fuck shit up, but it’s a little tired. Even when I read the book, I wanted her to move on because she came off so desperate.
Not to mention what later happens to her (Trigger warning: SA) was unnecessary in the book and onscreen. I thought it would eventually end up being a plot point in which she tried to say that Gabriel attacked her, but it didn’t. Not that I would have wanted her to accuse an innocent man, but that made it even more pointless to do this to a woman in this story. I am happy that she did make sure that the man responsible did have to face the consequences. That does not happen in this film yet. Spoiler Alert: the cliffhanger shows that Christa gives up on going after the Emersons, and she reports the professor who assaulted her.
There are things that I enjoyed about Gabriel’s Redemption: Part One. The love story is still there for Julia and Gabriel, and we see them navigate their marriage together and conquer many things together. The things they face are not necessarily that dramatic, however. And I did not think we needed the 1 hr and 50-minute runtime to accomplish it. I also felt like there were certain characters we didn’t need to see moments from. Specifically, the dream that Gabriel’s adoptive father, Richard, has about his dead wife, Grace. It did nothing to move the story in both the book and the film. I also didn’t need to see Paul and Allison’s relationship.
I get that Paul was in love with Julia. That’s fine, but what is the point of showing us a broody Paul at home in a flashback talking to his former girlfriend, Allison, who still wants to be with him? To prove that Paul also had someone who was feeling like him? Again, another moment that did nothing to move the story along in the book or the film.
Lastly, I usually enjoy the cliffhangers in the Gabriel films, but the choice to end Gabriel’s Redemption: Part One with Christa’s part instead of Gabriel and Julia was interesting. It’s not like they haven’t ended one of the films with Christa before, but when they did, it made sense. This time, I thought it was odd. It may have been because they weren’t even sure where to end this film.
Do I think Gabriel’s Redemption: Part One was a bad film? No. But the story wasn’t as exciting as the previous installments. And I think too many moments could have been left out. As I said, some stories are better off staying in book form.