Well, I guess Pure Flix can’t be the only ones churning out religious movies.
I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again. I am not religious. Born and raised Catholic, sort of, but never really took to it. As of now, I’m Agnostic. I’m open to the idea of God and Heaven, but I highly doubt that he exists. Now that we all know this about me, let’s carry on.
On a side note, I am actually an avid fan of country music. I was mostly into it in the mid to late 2000’s. My favorite artists being Keith Urban, Shania Twain, Lonestar, and yes, I was even something of a fan of Taylor Swift. To this day, I continue to be a fan of Shania. Even went to her “farewell” concert in 2015. That was awesome. So with that in mind about me as well, it should come as no surprise that I know exactly where the title of this movie comes from. The Rascal Flatts song of the same name. Staggeringly, the song is not featured in the trailer. Everything else was schmaltzy, so why not throw in that bit?
The story looks like it’s about a woman whose husband dies overseas and has a crisis of faith as she attempts to raise her daughter alone.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Lindsay Pulsipher (TRUE BLOOD [2008 – 2014], and the upcoming ONCE UPON A RIVER ), Jordin Sparks (SHOW DOGS ), Andrew W. Walker (stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen), Makenzie Moss (stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen), Liam Matthews (BATMAN V SUPERMAN ), and Madeline Carroll (I CAN ONLY IMAGINE , and the upcoming INDIVISIBLE ).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have Harold Cronk, known for GOD’S NOT DEAD (2014), and the upcoming UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION (2018). Cronk’s partner-in-pen is Jennifer Dornbush, known for a documentary that I’ve never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Will Musser, known for SAMSON (2018) and THE CASE FOR CHRIST (2017). The cinematographer is Philip Roy, known for stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen. Finally, the editor is Jesse Daniel, known for stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen.
Overall, I’m getting a serious LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE (2012) meets THE SHACK (2017) or GOD’S CLUB (2015). Although “crisis of faith” movies are probably a dime a dozen, aren’t they? I bet more savvy faith-based movie watchers can make many more comparisons. Still, I can take a guess on what this movie will be about. She will have her crisis, but her daughter, as well as her friends, ban together and eventually sway her to believe again. I look forward to seeing if the details really matter.
This is my honest opinion of: GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD
Set in Kentucky, circa 2016. Amber Hill (Lindsay Pulsipher) is a devout religious woman, devoted wife of her military husband Darren (no actor credited [as of 9/9/2018]) and beloved daughter Breanne “Bree” (Makenzie Moss). However, Amber and Bree are struck by tragedy as they are told that Amber’s husband was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Two years later, Amber has lost her faith in God, is struggling to make financial ends meet, doing what she can to be strong for Bree and keep her family together.
As far as religious films are concerned, this is certainly not the worst I’ve seen. THANK GOD, it’s not hateful like CASE FOR CHRIST. With that said, this movie is still kinda dumb.
Now, the rant I’m about to go into is pretty bias against organized religion in general, so y’all been warned. From my experiences with faith-based movies, I’ve noticed an inherent problem with their very design: there’s too much reliance on God, and not enough acknowledgement of personal strength. Take this movie. “God took away my husband.” Actually, I’m pretty sure that was ISIS who killed her husband. By the way, Darren’s not the only husband and father killed overseas. Why does she make it out like she’s the only one whose lost someone? “God took away my house, or turned my daughter against me,” um, no, the bank took Amber’s house and Bree turned against her because Amber couldn’t muster the courage to talk to her own daughter about her father, so she lashed out. And yet, when everything gets neatly resolved, God is also the one who’s responsible. Not one’s own perseverance through that intense pain and hardship, or not the gracious and generous community who took time out of their lives to uplift or otherwise help. Very little by way of reality is ever acknowledged and I, as a human being, find that to be such a weakness in character. I’d go more into this, but I’m going to attempt to stay focused on the movie, not religion and those who follow it.
As I said, the movie isn’t… awful. It is a story about a crisis of faith and thanks to the wonderful acting delivered by Pulsipher, you really feel for her pain a lot. She has a real knack for tugging at your heartstrings and making me connect with her character. Given better material, I think she could be a really good actress. With that said, a good actor doesn’t always save a bad character, and sadly, Amber is the main problem of the movie. Never mind the crisis of faith that she’s having, she’s just not that smart. The bank told her that, in order to save a little face, her only two options are to sell the house of her own free will, or the bank would repossess it. Sell it and get something out of it, or lose it and get diddly. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. But Amber is on this kick of, “the house is all that he left me.” Because, you know, that ring on her finger doesn’t count, or the LITTLE GIRL SHE’S BEEN MOTHERING!!! And that’s just the tangible things he left her. Somehow, that house that she fights so hard to keep is worth more than a comfortable living for her kid, which doesn’t paint Amber in the best of light. Because of Amber’s inability to let go of the house, and her inability to talk to her daughter about the pain they both share, it’d be fair to say that she’s both prideful and selfish. Not the best character traits in the protagonist, especially if it’s not a set of traits that are explored and acknowledged as part of her character.
Furthermore, the way she treats her mother-in-law Patti (Kim Delaney) only condemns the writing of her character even more. The movie loves to keep spouting that they have their differences, but… what are those differences? This is never explained. If anything, Amber seems like a rotten person for blowing off an otherwise nice woman who has been extending the olive branch. Granted, it’s not like Patti is explicitly saying that she wants to help, rather just reminding Amber that she’s not doing a good job, but Patti has demonstrated to be a great help to both her and Bree. So what exactly holds Amber back from asking her for help, or worse, accepting? “They have their issues” is not an excuse to hide behind. As it stands, Amber is making life harder on both herself and Bree for no good reason.
Other problems include the movie talking down to the audience. Yes, the theme of the movie is a crisis of faith. I don’t need Pastor Williams (LaDainian Tomlinson) preaching the theme of the movie, thank you very much. There’s a bit where a Sgt. Price (no actor credited on IMDb [as of 9/9/2018]) comes out of nowhere and asks her how she’s doing… which took him two years to ask? Also, his offer of on-base activities for kids ends up going nowhere and Sgt. Price never makes a reappearance. By the way, I chuckled when he offered to carry her groceries and he only ended up walking ten feet. Definitely a nitpick here, but I work in a breakfast restaurant, and there’s a scene where Cody goes to Rosie’s Diner, where Amber works. He says he wants pancakes and the only question she asks is if he wants bacon or sausage. Uh, how about whether or not he wants a single pancake, a short stack of two, or three? How about how he wants his eggs? Scrambled, over medium, poached, such an amateur. There’s a “I wish you’d died instead” cliché, a ridiculously out of place, and yet still fairly well done war scene, among some other things.
*** SPOILERS ***
Is it just me, or do certain plotlines not actually get resolved? There’s a bit where Amber takes out a loan from a pawn shop for $800, which is something I doubt any pawn shop would actually do. On her next visit, she pawns her wedding ring for… an unknown amount of money. So… did that end up covering both the $800 loan and her housing payment? Seriously, how much was that ring? Why did we need to see the shop owner be a prick instead of knowing how much that bloody ring was worth?!
*** END SPOILERS ***
Overall, as not good as this movie is, it’s not without it’s positives. Pulsipher is a good actress, as well as a good singer, making way for a couple of surprisingly good emotional moments. It’s not a hateful religious film, and compared to something like Pure Flix craps out, it does look like a cinematic release. With that said, it’s still writes it’s lead character as a very dumb person, which is consistent throughout the film. The more I think about it, the less I like it. It’s not particularly well written and its message of learning to have faith again isn’t backed up very well by the actual narrative. Is there much of a point in putting down a recommendation? If you’re not religious, you’re not going to get anything out of it, so don’t bother. If you are, then you’re not going to take the word of an Atheist, the very audience this movie wasn’t meant for, so you’ll end up seeing it anyway. All I can say is that it didn’t work for me.
My honest rating for GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD: a weak 3/5
This week’s reviews:
Next week’s reviews:
- THE PREDATOR
- A SIMPLE FAVOR
- WHITE BOY RICK
- WHERE HANDS TOUCH
- UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION