Thursday, February 7, 2013
Preaching to the Choir, Series 1: The Kendrick Brothers. Film 2: “Facing the Giants”
“Facing the Giants” demonstrates the Kendricks’ clear writing talent. The story is well-crafted, with nice (but generally not “two-by-four” obvious) little (and large) allusions to all kinds of Biblical stories, all of them cleverly integrated into a cohesive, strong whole. The writing also includes some true gems: the wife’s speech about their hoped-for children is among the best screen-writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to admire, and the “death crawl” scene is quite frankly among the most stirring scenes I’ve ever seen on film, period.
The strength of the writing is obvious in the face of the fact that frankly, nobody is a “real” actor here. The performances are sincere, but most of them suffer from simply an utter lack of any notion what acting really involves (not their fault, just a fact). On occasion, this actually works better than a “hired gun” might have—Alex Kendrick, for example, clearly has such deep empathy for the character he has created that he can just “be” the role (the way Hollywood tag lines always promise us the star will be—“So-and-So IS. . .”—but which is rarely actually delivered). His vulnerability is deeply touching; only the stoniest of hearts could not respond to it.
The “making of” shows us that this marvelously blessed group of people start all their work by dedicating it to God and asking Him to work through them—and this does shine through the entire film. It works despite the limitations of many of the actors, the budget, and the crew. I can only wonder what might have happened had the rest of the ensemble been just a bit sharper with respect to acting craft, or if they’d had the budget to increase production values across the board. That wife’s speech, for example, might have been an absolutely soaring moment; and the often truly adorable comedic moments might have sparked real hilarity. On the other hand, as the clear goal of the ensemble was NOT necessarily to “make the greatest movie,” or even “the most successful movie,” but rather to glorify God with whatever He gave them the ability and resources to do, perhaps in the end it was all far more for the best. The idea that I have even SEEN this film made by a Baptist church in Albany, Georgia—let alone that it is available to rent or buy all over the world—is clear evidence of God at work. What more need be said?