A Question of Faith

a-question-of-faith-rev A Question of Faith  (2017)    Pure Flix/Drama    RT: 101 minutes    Rated PG (thematic elements)    Director: Kevan Otto    Screenplay: Ty Manns    Music: Nelson Jackson and Jason Solowsky    Cinematography: Chase Bowman    Release date: September 29, 2017 (US)    Cast: Richard T. Jones, Kim Fields, C. Thomas Howell, Renee O’Connor, Gregory Alan Williams, T.C. Stallings, Jaci Velasquez, Amber Thompson, Karen Valero, Donna Biscoe, Marliss Amiea, James Hooper, Caleb T. Thomas.


 It happens to everybody at one time or another. We’ve all seen movies that get to us emotionally. It doesn’t matter if they’re Oscar-level dramas or made-for-Lifetime junk, we all have that short list of titles that go straight to the heart and activate the tear ducts. Even Movie Guy isn’t immune to this. I have to have tissue handy when I watch My Girl, Benji or The Lion King (“The Circle of Life” always does me in). As of yesterday, A Question of Faith is on my list. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I bought into this unabashedly sappy Christian melodrama whole-heartedly. By the end, I was a mess. Even now, I still feel a surge of emotion when I think about A Question of Faith. Now that’s what I call effective.

 a question of faithAs per the title, somebody’s faith is put to the test. That would be David Newman (Jones, The Wood), an associate pastor about to assume the role of senior pastor in the wake of his father’s retirement. He has many responsibilities at his church including the overseeing of a major construction project. Work constantly interferes with his familial responsibilities. He’s constantly breaking promises to his tough-minded wife Theresa (Fields, The Facts of Life) and two sons. His failure to pick up youngest son Eric (Thomas) for his basketball game results in tragedy. While walking to his game, he’s struck by a teenage girl, Maria (Valero), who was texting while driving.

 Meanwhile, John Danielson (Howell, Woodlawn) is having a life crisis of his own. His construction business is failing and in danger of foreclosure unless he comes up with a lot of money. His hopes hinge on his daughter Michelle (Thompson), a gifted singer, landing a contract with a record company. She collapses after a performance in church. It turns out she has a heart defect and needs a life-saving transplant quickly. That is, if they can find a donor.

 Back at Camp Newman, David struggles to accept that his son is brain-dead and won’t be coming back. Initially, he’s dead-set against donating Eric’s organs but relents and signs the forms. As a result, Michelle’s life is saved. David, on the other hand, is angry at God and starts questioning his faith. He can’t believe it’s all part of God’s plan. He also struggles to forgive Maria who gets sent to a juvenile prison to await trial for manslaughter. She could be tried as an adult. Her mother Kate (Velasquez, Chasing Papi) is a woman of faith and prays to God to help her daughter through this dark time.

Plotwise, there aren’t any real surprises in A Question of Faith. It’s strictly by-the-numbers and connect-the-dots screenwriting. For example, David has to hire a contractor for a major project at the church. John needs a job or else he will lose the family business. Connect the dots. The screenplay is also somewhat unfocused with its many subplots like Theresa starting a No Texting and Driving/Become an Organ Donor program, going to high schools and getting the kids to pledge not to text while driving. This movie’s Anti-TWD message is strong as is its pro-organ donation stance (it really does save lives). There’s also a romance between a church deacon (Stallings, War Room) and the beautiful town official (Amiea) brought in to approve the construction project. The story is all over the place but it all comes together neatly at the end.

 There’s a great deal of overemoting in A Question of Faith especially in the scenes where characters speak to God and ask for His guidance. In a movie like this, overacting isn’t only expected, it’s kind of required. It’s hard to explain but somehow it makes the drama all the more effective. If you’re a churchgoer, you get it. Some of the characters could have been better defined. It’s implied that John is a racist but we only in one scene. It’s never mentioned before and not brought up again. Like mankind, A Question of Faith is imperfect. It has its flaws but based purely on emotionalism, I think it’s an excellent faith-based drama. It gets a little preachy here and there but it doesn’t vilify non-believers. In fact, that never really factors in. Everybody appears to be on the same page as far as that goes. In any event, A Question of Faith is one of the most legitimately heartfelt movies I’ve seen in a while. I liked it so much I recommended to a churchgoing friend who thought it was excellent and plans to see it again with her “church ladies” (no, Dana Carvey isn’t one of them). If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is. 

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