As I have mentioned several times, Princess Cut is one of my very favorite movies. On my first day of summer break, I had the opportunity to screen this film, with the purpose of reviewing it. (Disclosure: Thanks to the producer, Paul Munger, for providing me a temporary viewing link so that I could review the movie.)
I was excited to see the third part of the film, because I had heard that it was about Tessa’s love story. After seeing Tessa as a recurring character in the first two movies, I was looking forward to a plot that focused more on her.
- Full Title: Princess Cut 3: Beauty for Ashes
- Written by: D. B. Hansen, Elizabeth E. Hansen, Sheilah Munger, Paul Munger, Kim P. Wells
- Produced by Paul Munger
- Directed by Sheilah Munger
- Starring Kate MacCallum, Ben Davies, Chandler Macocha, Giselle Torres, Brett Varvel, Kendra Carelli
- Synopsis: This time, it’s Tessa’s turn to read the love story that God has written for her!
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair…Isaiah 61:3b
The third Princess Cut installment showcases themes of justice and integrity, through the character of Mike. We also see God’s redemptive work in bringing about beauty in Tessa’s story, after she has encountered so much pain and hardship. (I think you really need to see all three installments of Princess Cut to fully appreciate this message.)
We see the characters praying and there are also overt references to the importance of putting Jesus Christ first, in every relationship. Woo! It is such a delight to hear the name of Jesus in movies. I also really appreciate this continuing hallmark of emphasizing Jesus’ lordship in relationships. While the movie differed from the first two in some respects, we do still get to witness an inspiring moment or two that points directly to Jesus.
What I Liked
While in some ways, the film felt like it could have been a standalone, the recurring characters lent some cohesion between the first/second and third films. Tessa was my favorite character in the movie, and it was so heartwarming to watch her development throughout the trilogy’s arc.
We meet Tessa in the first movie. She’s Grace’s best friend, although their friendship is a bit puzzling, as the two come from very different backgrounds — and Tessa isn’t very kind to Grace. She doesn’t seem to value their friendship (she ditches Grace on a coffee date, throws the friendship over a cute guy and downplays Grace’s concerns).
In the second film, Tessa and Grace grow apart as Tessa decides to move in with a guy and Grace is unable to support this decision. Throughout this film, Tessa forges a strong friendship with Lauren, Grace’s sister-in-law, and also finds a welcoming family in the Andersons.
Beauty for Ashes finds Tessa a single mom, struggling to provide for herself and her son. Unlike in the first two films, Tessa is now seeking God, herself. She turns to Him in crisis, rather than pretending to have all of the answers, herself. While she’s still the same sarcastic person, her spirit has softened, especially in her relationship with the Lord. Unlike the young woman from the first movie who casually dabbled in relationships, Tessa now seeks to be intentional in her relationships, which I see as a reflection on her understanding of identity. And, knowing where Tessa started out, that is such a beautiful thing.
Mimi Sagadin portrayed Katherine Anderson for the third time. Honestly, it was such a good feeling just seeing her on-screen again, after all the turmoil of the second movie. Her presence feels reassuring to me. I also appreciate that the creators make a very clear generational distinction, portraying Katherine as the voice of wisdom to her children (and those who are like children to her). It is so refreshing to watch a movie that points to the wisdom that parents have, since our culture is so obsessed with youth.
Kendra Carelli, Brett Varvel and Chandler Macocha reprise their roles from Princess Cut 2: Hearts on Fire. In terms of plot, I really enjoyed seeing how these characters continued to treat Tessa as a family member, and how there was more reciprocity on Tessa’s part, this time around. I also just enjoyed watching the Andersons’ family dynamics, in general. It’s so heartwarming to see how they continue to work together as a family, with both sons working the farm– a tradition Jim and Katherine established in the first film of the series.
I also liked seeing Drew’s slightly bigger role in this film. Interestingly, grown-up Drew is quite similar to child Drew. Without giving any spoilers away, I’ll just say that I really liked what they did with Drew’s story in this film.
The first time I recall seeing Ben Davies in a film was around the time I first saw Princess Cut (during my senior year of college). I originally saw him in I’m Not Ashamed, but have seen him in multiple other movies, the past few years. I’ve enjoyed his acting, and was pleasantly surprised to see him on the poster for this film.
I recently watched the movie A Matter of Faith (and enjoyed it so much that I reviewed it), which also stars Chandler Macocha. In truth, I didn’t make the connection until I was looking at IMDb. Nonetheless, having seen him in three movies, now, I can safely say that I like his acting.
Mimi Sagadin, as mentioned above, was a reassuring returning face (and it looks like she was recently in a Corrie ten Boom biopic, which I think is very cool) as were Kate MacCallum as Tessa and Joseph Gray as Clint. Giselle Torres did a great job, again, as Ariana, this time with some singing parts, and Kendra Carelli and Brett Varvel did a solid job reprising their respective roles as Lauren and Robert.
Compared to the first two films, Beauty for Ashes feels a bit more like a standard Christian romance, to me, unlike the first movie, which really stood out to me because of its message about dating and relationships. On one hand, that absolutely makes sense to me, because Tessa and Grace are two very different characters, with very different backgrounds. Realistically, it wouldn’t make sense for Tessa to have the same type of courting eperience as Grace, and in this sense, I like that Tessa’s story is very much her own. I appreciate the message that you don’t have to grow up in a family like Grace’s to have a Christ-honoring marriage. This is such an important message, and one that really points to God’s work of redemption, and the fact that He is the One to bring “beauty from ashes.” In this sense, I would say the film is consistent with the first two and has a message that brings glory to God.
Beauty for Ashes takes on a more suspenseful edge, so this is a film I would recommend previewing before watching with children. The movie takes on domestic violence, with a (somewhat fuzzy) depiction of a man beating his wife. There’s also a few intense scenes where Tessa confronts a violent man.
This movie is also a bit different in that there is kissing between some of the characters. This is pretty common in Christian films, but it was really neat that the original Princess Cut didn’t have it.
I would recommend Princess Cut 3 in conjunction with the other two. It was beautiful to see how God was writing Tessa’s story, redeeming each event in her life and truly bringing about beauty. I would recommend this more for teenagers and adults.