Surprised By Oxford: Movie Review & Giveaway

I don't know how I missed it. But I never read Carolyn Weber's memoir, Surprised By Oxford. 

Now that I have had the opportunity to preview the film adaptation of her book I will definitely be getting the book to add to my TBR pile. Because I still lean into that old saying, 'The book is better than the movie.'  But that remains to be seen in the case of this book/movie. Suffice it to say that the movie was good enough to lead me to want more. And I suspect I will get more from reading Professor Weber's memoir. 


Title: Surprised By Oxford

Studio: Evolve Studios, Nook Lane, Ascendant Fox

Genre: Faith-inspired, Drama, Romance

Directed by: Ryan Whitaker

Run Time: 1h 42m

Rating: I don't believe it is rated, but I would venture to say it is PG-13 due to the realistic nature of the film. There is occasional profanity, etc. I will leave a link here to the Plugged In review that goes further into issues in the movie that might be of concern to family viewing. Here is the link: Plugged In Review

Available to rent or buy November 2023

Purchase your movie here: SURPRISED BY OXFORD MOVIE

My ReviewπŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›

Caro Drake, a brilliant but emotionally guarded American student, arrives at the University of Oxford determined to attain her Ph.D. Through a turbulent friendship with a charming young man, she begins to open herself up to mystery, vulnerability, and love. 

That's the short of it. But really there is so much more. The beginning of the movie sets the stage for understanding the source of this young woman's quest for truth, and trust as it gives us a bit of her childhood background story. 

Later...In a scene with her undergraduate college professor where she gives her analysis of John Donne's Holy Sonnet 14, he lets her know that she is missing the point and states that "anything without eternal significance is ultimately doomed to futility. The truth is in the paradox..." This sets us up for what is to come as she heads off to Oxford for her postgraduate studies. 

Caro wrestles with unsettled feelings of a desire for what is real, what is true, whatever that thing is that we all long for. The thing our soul longs for. Her friend leads her to read C.S. Lewis' book, Surprised By Joy, which is his recounting of his early life and his lifelong search for Joy which leads him ultimately to find God. 

There are so many underlying nods to the link between the intellectual quest for truth and understanding of human nature and the 'God who is there', without being 'in your face' with it. As Caro says, "Maybe we reach for something or desire something because that something is there...beyond us. The thing our desires point to." 

And we have the picture of the struggle in the romance between Caro and Kent. There seems to be a parallel here in the picture of God's pursuit of Caro and Kent's pursuit...even as he gives up the pursuit out of love and respect for her wishes. There is a scene where Caro and her friends are viewing William Holman Hunt's painting of Jesus standing at the door and knocking. One of the friends notes that there is a problem with the painting. There is no handle on the door. 
That is the beauty of the pursuit of God...He waits for us to open the door.  Ultimately it is up to Caro...to open the door of her heart. 

I hope this spurs you to go watch the movie...and maybe go read the book as well. 

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." ~Revelation 3:20

Go “Behind the Story” with Annie Downs interview...



Many thanks to Evolve Studios for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

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I'm giving away a free Vimeo download code to watch the film!! To enter just leave a comment below with your full name and email. No rafflecopter this time. I'll do a drawing for the winner on November 20. 

Note: This is limited to US winners only