×

The Courage to Love

Vanessa Williams is looking for a higher love in Lifetime's take on the life and times of saintly New Orleans church lady Henriette Delille. Strong point of "The Courage to Love," exec produced by Williams, is its lavish re-creation of 19th century Louisiana. Pic comes up short, however, in the character development and dialogue departments.

With:
Henriette Delille - Vanessa Williams Gerard Gaultier - Gil Bellows Julie Gadin - Karen Williams Marie Alicot - Lisa Bronwyn Moore Father Rousselon - David La Haye Cecelia Delille - Cynda Williams Pouponne - Diahann Carroll Jean Baptiste - Stacy Keach Jacques - Eddie "Bo" Smith With: Graeme Somerville, Kevin Jubinville, Susannah Hoffman, Jean-Louis Roux, Lise Roy, Raven Dauda

Vanessa Williams is looking for a higher love in Lifetime’s take on the life and times of saintly New Orleans church lady Henriette Delille. Strong point of “The Courage to Love,” exec produced by Williams, is its lavish re-creation of 19th century Louisiana. Pic comes up short, however, in the character development and dialogue departments.

Tori Ann Johnson’s story takes place in pre-Civil War-era New Orleans, when wealthy French and Spanish men often courted women of color and fathered their children without marrying them. When we first meet the strong-willed Henriette, she has begun to question a society in which a white man, like her father (Stacy Keach), is never allowed to marry the black mother of his children (an elegant Diahann Carroll).

Not one to follow conventions blindly, our heroine dedicates her life to teaching the underprivileged children of the city how to read and becomes one of the first women of color to take an active part in the white-run church. She even rejects the romantic advances of a young French doctor (Gil Bellows), who offers to marry her and whisk her away to a better life in France, in order to follow a spiritual path.

And therein lies the problem: Williams’ portrayal of Henriette is too chaste and noble. The beautiful star of the project, whose mannerisms and language are a little too modern, comes across as too much of an ice queen. Interesting tales about people who do the work of God often feature welcome visits from Satan or his seductive pawns.

Gil Bellows, who has mastered a believable French accent (“I want to be wiz you”), only gets to hold hands and dance briefly with the object of his affections. If there had been indications of a sensual connection, the stakes would be higher and the plot more interesting to follow.

In 1989, Delille became an African American woman whose cause for canonization has been recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Tech credits are magnifique.

The Courage to Love

Lifetime; Mon. Jan. 24, 9 p.m.

Production: A correction was made to these credits on Nov. 21, 2006. Filmed in Quebec by Motion Intl. and distributed by New Star Television for Lifetime. Executive producers, Vanessa Williams, Ron Ziskin, Emily Gerson Saines, Jacques Methe, Gord Haines; director, Kari Skogland; writer, Toni Ann Johnson; producers, Jean Desormeaux, Stephane Reichel.

Crew: Director of photography, Jonathan Freeman; production designer, costume designer, Linda Matheson; art director, Jean-Francois Campeau; editor, Isabelle Levesque; music, Christopher Dedrick; story, Phyllis Beech; casting, Claire Walker, Nadia Rona/Elite. 120 MIN.

Cast: Henriette Delille - Vanessa Williams Gerard Gaultier - Gil Bellows Julie Gadin - Karen Williams Marie Alicot - Lisa Bronwyn Moore Father Rousselon - David La Haye Cecelia Delille - Cynda Williams Pouponne - Diahann Carroll Jean Baptiste - Stacy Keach Jacques - Eddie "Bo" Smith With: Graeme Somerville, Kevin Jubinville, Susannah Hoffman, Jean-Louis Roux, Lise Roy, Raven Dauda

More TV

  • craig-ferguson-join-or-die

    Craig Ferguson Game Show 'The Hustler' Gets Picked Up by ABC

    Comedian and host Craig Ferguson is returning to the airwaves with a new trivia game show series at ABC, “The Hustler,” in which one player will already secretly know all the answers. The format involves five contestants working together on a series of trivia questions, with the aim of growing and winning a collective prize [...]

  • Patrick Dempsey poses with his 'Excellence

    Patrick Dempsey, Alessandro Borghi Discuss Being Part of 'Devils'

    Patrick Dempsey (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Italian actor Alessandro Borghi (“Suburra”), who co-star in the anticipated financial-world thriller series “Devils,” said the show pulled them into uncharted territories. A sign that the TV drama business is becoming increasingly global, “Devils” marks the first truly international drama for both actors. Although it shot in English, “Devils” was [...]

  • Foto conceitual de Aruanas, feita no

    Globo’s ‘Aruanas’: Estela Renner on a Female-Centric Amazon Thriller

    CANNES  — Do yourself a Netflix. On July 2, Brazilian media giant Globo launched Amazon.set thriller “Aruanas,” a single scripted series produced for OTT service Globoplay, in 150 countries worldwide using Vimeo-powered platform aruanas.tv. It offers  subtitles in 11 languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Turkish and Korean. That global initiative reflects [...]

  • Snow White

    What's Coming to Disney Plus Starting in November

    Disney unveiled the complete list of films to premiere on its streaming service Disney Plus via a lengthy Twitter thread Monday. With its powerhouse catalog including Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic properties, the full magnitude of the Disney empire will be seen once the streaming service launches. Along with Disney originals previously announced [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Sarah Silverman I Love You America

    Sarah Silverman Sets New HBO Comedy Special, Late-Night Series Pilot

    Sarah Silverman is headed to HBO. The comedian has signed a deal for a new comedy special with the premium cabler, with HBO also giving Silverman a pilot order for a late-night series. The news comes less than a year after Hulu canceled Silverman’s Emmy-nominated talk show “I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman” after [...]

  • Succession

    'Succession': Is Kendall a Killer Yet? Brian Cox Thinks So

    The Roys set sail aboard a refitted yacht in the Mediterranean in the Season 2 finale of ‘Succession’ Sunday, but it is hardly a vacation. Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) gathers his family (including Gerri, among others) to figure out whose head would be put on a stake as Waystar Royco’s sacrificial lamb offering [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content