I Still Believe hits the right chords: Movie Review

I Still Believe
I Still Believe hits the right chords: Movie Review
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins has been a reporter with Oakville News since 2016. Covering local news and live events, he specializes in film, theatre, and entertainment. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. Tyler is a proud graduate of Journalism and Performing Arts from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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For every set of unrefined and uninteresting movies of faith that get made, credit is due when one is made well. I Still Believe, the new romance from the Erwin Brothers (of 2018 hit I Can Only Imagine) is an anomaly.

The film genre of faith and especially christianity are often used as crutches to sell tickets in theatres. Instead of telling worthwhile stories, characters’ shallowness and desperation is exposed. Even worse, sometimes the resolute faith is fraudulent and Hollywood’s glamorization is in fact the church’s self-pride.

I Still Believe works best because it’s been crafted to avoid these hindrances. Devotion (both human and devine) are not the exclusive traits of the characters. Like real people, faith does not motivate every choice, and sometimes the mistakes.

The story is about musician Jeremy Camp (played by Riverdale’s KJ Apa) meeting his eventual wife Melissa (Britt Robertson). Shortly after they meet in college, Melissa falls ill, and the pair of them navigate school, family, the music industry, science and their faith to make sense of Melissa’s failing health.

Yes, the plot begins as a regular love triangle conflict, with two boys and a girl who has to make a choice. The story, thankfully ends the conflict within the first half, and that’s where the difference is between it and a hokey romance.

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

It is easy to overlook the beginning as a pretty unremarkable love story. There’s a fine line between sincere and sappy, and I Still Believe somehow finds that balance. It greatly helps that Apa and Robertson have enough electricity between them to supercharge a thunderstorm.

When the conflict evolves and changes beyond a simple fight, the stakes get higher. And when the story is about more than just the feelings of two people, it’s more interesting to see how things unfold. As Melissa jokes in one scene, “Is it about God?” – Jeremy interestingly replies “Not entirely,” unaware of what’s coming.

Better still than a cookie-cutter story is when there’s enough heart from the performers. The entire cast, even when they’re sad or stuck in challenging situations, is intensely likeable, making for easy watching.

“If one person’s life changes because of what I’m going through,” Melissa says, “it will all be worth it.” That is true, powerful faith. Whether you believe in higher powers or not, you cannot deny the positive influence and steadfastness of such a statement.

Melissa arrives at many composed ideas based on her situation. Towards the end, she observes that “Suffering doesn’t destroy faith – it refines it.” Faith-based films are all about their ability to translate authenticity on to the screen. That’s why the subject traditionally works so much better in music and the stage than on film.

I Still Believe is a faith-based film about more than faith.

But the Erwin Brothers have proven their disciplined filmmaking leads to a great production that does justice to their evident faithfulness. And like their first film, it ends with a great song.

Those turned off by the romance and religious genres won’t be won over so easily. But I personally still believe this is a great movie that all families and, yes, all backgrounds can enjoy.

I Still Believe

7 out of 10
G, 1hr 55mins. Faith Romance Biography Drama.
Directed by the Erwin Brothers.
Starring KJ Apa, Britt Robertson, Nathan Parsons, Melissa Roxburgh, Shania Twain and Gary Sinise.
Now playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill & VIP.

Additional entertainment articles by Tyler Collins are posted on OakvilleNews.Org. Follow Tyler on Twitter @MrTyCollins.

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