The Russell Girl (TV Movie 2008) Poster

(2008 TV Movie)

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The Russell Girl is An Endearing Film ****
edwagreen27 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Outstanding film dealing with relationships, human tragedy and the rebounding of the human spirit.

The film sports 2 outstanding performances by heroine Amber Tamblyn, a Macy's buyer, who has been accepted to Northwestern University, to pursue a medical profession only to discover that she has an aggressive form of leukemia and Jennifer Ehle, as Lorraine.

6 years earlier while babysitting for a one year old daughter, the Tamblyn character was distracted by the antics of the baby's two older brothers with tragedy ensuing. This tragedy has caused Lorraine to become an embittered, emotionally wrought woman who is doing an excellent job of alienating both her husband and sons.

Upon receiving this terrible diagnosis, Tamblyn (Sarah) rushes home to her parents and brother who bring her the news of her Northwestern acceptance. Unable to tell them the terrible news, the movie becomes one of interpersonal relationships among the cast including Sarah's former boyfriend, who has returned home to tend to his stroke victim father.

This film is definitely a triumph of the human spirit through perseverance and courage.

The film shows how in adversity people can come together. I highly recommend it.
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Superb Writing, Superb Performances
yates-32 February 2008
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.
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Somewhat depressing but still a quality production
vchimpanzee31 January 2008
If the news is not good ...

Of COURSE the news isn't good. This is a Hallmark Hall of Fame production.

Sarah Russell is a buyer for Macy's in Chicago. She wanted to go to medical school, but so far she has not been accepted anywhere. But now she may not get the chance to go to medical school anyway. She has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, and while it can be treated, she needs to act quickly.

Sarah goes home, since she has vacation time coming. Once she has returned to her hometown, she meets former boyfriend Evan, who works at his father's gas station. Evan is actually an investment banker in Dallas, but when his father had a stroke, he had to come home temporarily to help out, doing what he could in his other job by means of technology. After a minor accident, Sarah has an excuse to spend time with Evan, who can do the necessary repairs to her car.

When Sarah returns to her parents' house, Lorraine from across the street sees her, goes inside and tells her husband "The Russell Girl" is back, in a tone that makes it appear Sarah was part of some scandal years ago. Lorraine, who restores furniture and related items, soon becomes depressed and bitter, and almost incapable of functioning because of migraines. She won't even watch her teenage son playing in an important baseball game.

Sarah's parents are happy to see her, and they have a telephone message she believes they would rather not have heard. No, it's not that. She actually has been accepted to Northwestern's medical school. Sarah can't give them the bad news now. There may be more to her refusal to say anything, though.

The movie has important messages about forgiveness and dealing with guilt. Amber Tamblyn and Jennifer Ehle both give superior performances. Ehle has the greater challenge because of her wide range of moods, but she also delivers some unexpected moments. Tamblyn also has to show a wide range. Fortunately, a movie that could have been quite depressing has some pleasant moments and even some humor. For example, the girl at the karaoke bar would never make it past Simon Cowell.

Young children may be upset by one scene (although the references to cancer would be enough to discourage them anyway), but the event is critical and only implied (the tragic result is mentioned explicitly several times). Brief flashbacks, and one longer one, look like a World Book Encyclopedia illustration of one type of color blindness. It is the long flashback that is the key to the whole movie.

It was worthy of the name Hallmark.
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She's not just the Russell Girl. She has a first name.
Len98762 February 2009
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!
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The Russell Girl : A Story of Guilt & Forgiveness
ichocolat29 July 2009
The Russell Girl deals about fear, guilt, suppressed feelings, anger, and the need to let go of the past, and to embrace the future.

The Russell Girl went back to visit her family, to tell the news about her health. She was suffering from leukemia. However, when she got home, she couldn't find the courage to let her parents know about it.

And her distant past caught up with her. She remembered vividly what had happened years ago, when she was entrusted to babysit her neighbor's's kids. Tragedy ensued that night, and they blamed her for the mishap.

Overall, a good film, albeit a tad too slow for my liking. The ending was predictable and expected.. However, that is in no way saying that the film wasn't good or anything. It is just that it may not be everyone's cuppa tea.
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Need a Tissue Box with this Film
whpratt128 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Enjoyed this great Hallmark Theatre Presentation which had a very down to earth dramatic event which happens in people's lives and two women who both experience horrible events in their lives. One is a married woman with teenage boys and a great husband who loves her and they have a young one year old baby girl who has a babysitter who is distracted by her brothers and the baby falls to her death down a flight of stairs. This woman is named Lorainne Morrisey, (Jennifer Ehle) and the babysitter is Sarah Russell, (Amber Tamblyn). This tragic event occurred six years ago and time has passed by and Sarah Russell is a buyer for Macy's Department Store in Chicago and is also informed that she has been accepted in Northwestern University in Chicago to pursue a medical profession. Unfortunately, Sarah is also informed by medical doctors that she has an aggressive leukemia which must be treated immediately. This is a great story about a mother who lost her baby daughter and blames a babysitter for this tragedy and the babysitter feeling that she caused this babies death. Don't miss this TV film the next time it is shown.
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So slow that I could not get past first 30min.
Flickstr31 January 2008
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.
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A sensitive film, yes, but its also a very somber, don't watch it if you are feeling down
Amy Adler6 December 2012
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.
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Pleasant enough Hallmark TV movie.
TxMike29 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As the movie opens in Chicago, we see the "Russell girl" Amber Tamblyn as Sarah Russell, college graduate who aspires to medical school but has not been accepted yet and is working in Chicago in retail. But we also see her going to a clinic to get what turns out to be some bad news, she is sick with a form of leukemia. So she travels home to Staunton, Illinois, to "burn off" some of her vacation. But her real reason was the illness, and she wasn't sure how she would handle or even tell her family.

Across the street lives Jennifer Ehle as Lorainne Morrisey, with her family which includes two teen-age sons. We find out there had been a tragedy about 6 years earlier, Lorainne lost her young daughter and had never gotten over it.

The movie has two main stories, how Sarah deals with her illness, and her old boyfriend whom she wants to be with, but doesn't want to burden him with her problems. The other is how Lorainne can get over her loss and live life again. Not a great movie, but a good enough one.

SPOILERS: Sarah had been involved in the tragedy, she was the babysitter, trying to quell a fight between the two sons when the daughter fell down the stairs into the basement, and dying from her injuries. Lorainne had never forgiven Sarah, and was mean to her when she saw her. She was also angry at her husband for not fixing the basement door to prevent what happened. But finally we learn that Lorianne had bought the wrong screws, that is why the door was not fixed. The tragedy was really no one's fault, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sarah eventually told her parents and friends, and was also accepted into medical school, but as the movie ends she is focusing on her treatment.
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great little performance from Tamblyn
SnoopyStyle16 June 2015
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.
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A melancholy but ultimately uplifting portrayal...
jeckelo_hunny1 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie out of boredom, but the melancholy feel of the movie drew me in, fueled by a strange sense that somethings off. I desperately needed to know what was going on. Sarah seemed to be struggling with something, but like many people effected by tragedy, she couldn't find the words to talk about what she's going through. The sadness tore my heart. On the other end, Jennifer's suffering seemed even more fueled by her lack of closure. I spent the night glued to the television, praying that they'd both get what they needed to move on with their lives.

I better warn the men, this IS a chick flick.
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Strong Cast, Decent Script
Eric Curto14 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I had recorded this on my DVR when it aired on Lifetime, being a fan of Amber Tamblyn, I figured I'd check it out. Come a few months later and I finally get around to watching it. What my initial reaction was how quickly things seemed to have been wrapped up.

The story for those who haven't seen the film or didn't bother to read the synopsis goes as follows.

Sarah Russell(Amber Tamblyn)is a young medical student who is given the bad news that she now has Leukemia, this prompts her to return home where her mother(Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and father (Daniel Clark)seem oblivious to why she might have returned. Another plot point this story is that Sarah had moved away after a tragedy occurred with her neighbors (Jennifer Ehle & Henry Czerny) youngest child while she was watching her.

The performances in the film are pretty good, I loved Sarah's reactions and moments of regret and guilt she gives off, especially during the really dramatic moments. Lorraine, who's the neighbor that is still hurting from her daughters death also provides some great moments. My biggest issue with the film is how one moment things show nothing i close to being resolved an than everything is fine. Than the moment when the plot moves forward and gets more interesting than its suddenly over. I understand in the real world things are never certain and the ending we get shows she is at least accepting of her situation, but the main plot seems tied too nicely and rushed.

Do I feel like this was a waste of my time, no, I found the film fun to watch and a great Hallmark Original Film. However, its nothing to run outside and tell your friends about. Its just a great time passer. So if you have nothing to watch and this is on, sit back and enjoy.

Yes, I do realize how much Jennifer Ehle looks like Meryl Streep
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Too similar to Candles on Bay Street.
johnnymacbest27 January 2008
Although the story is quite interesting, for me it was too similar and predictable; especially towards the end. This movie is just like Candles on Bay Street because for one thing, the main characters are females with cancer; the only difference is that one died and the other lived. I wasn't too keen on the performances though Amber Tamblyn does a fairly nice job than Alicia Silverstone. Aside from that, there's really nothing special about this film. It's just something that's better suited for an episode in a TV drama, nothing more or less. Hallmark has done some good movies, but the end result for this one is simply "meh" at best. Overall, this film is better watched just to pass the time.
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Another Hallmark Offering
SpudV28 January 2008
While one should not expect an Emmy award winner out of the movies Hallmark typically puts out, "The Russell Girl" was OK entertainment for two hours. I appreciated the lack of long commercial breaks. It was difficult to say if the lead actress, Tamblyn, made the movie slow down in parts or if it was just the script itself. It did seem to drag out as she kept playing a "keep-away" game of her secret from her family.

Even though she was relatively young (early 20's) she had not resolved a major event that had happened five years ago, one she ran away from. This movie did fairly well in showing the results of not forgiving as well as the ineffectiveness of running away from a bad situation. It just seemed to take awhile to get to the ending that wasn't a surprise but was nice to see anyhow.

The strength of the movie came in giving the audience a chance to examine their own lives, if given the news of having an "aggressive cancer". Would we accept it as some sort of karma for the bad things we have done? Would we try to right past wrongs? How would we spend the little time we have left? Considering the junk that passes for entertainment on TV lately (watching someone strapped to a lie detector for an hour?), I did not have any regrets using up two hours of my life on this movie.

(A better Hallmark movie on forgiveness is "The Christmas Gift" with Neal Patrick Harris.)
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Not What I Expected
Kellie Stewart21 May 2009
This is a movie that could have had me crying my eyes out, but one bad actress ruined the entire movie. The grieving mother seemed to think her best acting attribute was her lip quiver. The movie was also unrealistic in its family dynamics. You don't go from being sad mom for 6 years and then just overnight become super mom. It would have been a gripping story, but the person I as I mom, I know that we have the instinct that something is wrong, but mom & dad were just happy in their oblivion. I would have liked the story to have extended a bit with the girl and her family, but I guess we are left at the end knowing what we are supposed to know. I would not recommend watching this movie for the time it takes to watch it.
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paulapulaski2 August 2016
Can't stand movies where no one can talk about their feelings and they never say what they mean! Totally annoying. Seems they would rather suffer in silence than unburden their souls despite opportunities to do so. For this reason I couldn't stand this long suffering dragged out miserable film. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone. The sudden transformation in the relationship with the neighbor is Also unrealistic. Finally got to the point mid way through the movie the Husband has enough sense to tell his wife it wasn't Sarah's fault. And Sarah's medical condition so far has not surfaced with anyone except the hospital!
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jkantor27 January 2008
Sappy story; sappy acting; sappy music - and to make it even worse, it's excruciatingly slow. Please shoot me.

There is no story here, or character development or anything other than depressing music, long-faced actors, and interminably long scenes. By the first break, you don't even know what it's about - except miserably, self-absorbed people.

And the typical movie-of-the-week production values don't add anything to it either.

The only thing worse was the Hallmark commercial at the first break. But that, at least, was mercifully short. In fact, that's what this movie seems to be - a sappy 30-second commercial padded out to two hours.
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I don't know if I can make it through the whole movie
avocadess8 July 2015
Had to give it a 5 since I could not bring myself to watch the whole thing.

I just want to warn people that very little happens for the first 18 minutes of the film other than watching people get looks on their faces like they feel sick and sad (and very mum).

To call it a slow beginning to a film would be an understatement. I really don't know how much more of this I can stand. I don't mind wondering why someone is upset for a few minutes, but this is ridiculous.

At 24 minutes it is still a guessing game what the girl is so upset about. Oh, and the neighbor(s) of the girl's parents are upset too, but they don't tell why either. Ugh. I gave up watching at 25 minutes.
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A weakness, but otherwise OK +
gdcox21 April 2009
Karma is not God's retribution or reward in this life as stated by the mother of the main character. Either the mother is stupid/ignorant as a character, which does not seem to make sense, or the screenplay writer is.

Karma..................... 'In Indian philosophy, the influence of an individual's past actions on his future lives or reincarnations. It is based on the conviction that the present life is only one in a chain of lives . The accumulated moral energy of a person's life determines his or her character, class status, and disposition in the next life. The process is automatic, and no interference by the gods is possible. In the course of a chain of lives, people can perfect themselves and reach the level of Brahma, or they can degrade themselves to the extent that they return to life as animals. The concept of karma, basic to Hinduism, was also incorporated into Buddhism and Jainism.'
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