“Believe” releases in theaters just in time for the holidays, or should I say Christmas? It is a film by Billy Dickson (Ally McBeal, One Tree Hill) that centers in on the small mining town of Grundy, Virginia. For years, the Peyton family has provided not only jobs but the highlight of the year — the annual Christmas festival and pageant. Unfortunately, as financial hardships fall on the town, Matthew Peyton (Ryan O’Quinn) finds himself overwhelmed as business profits plummet. His workers begin to strike, his community support dwindles, and Matthew is forced to make impossible decisions concerning the future of the family business and the beloved pageant. But as the film would suggest that — everything happens for a reason — just in time, Matthew meets an optimistic young boy named Clarence (Issac Ryan Brown) and his mother Sharon (Danielle Nicolet). These newfound friends will help Matthew find the hope and courage he needs to face the obstacles and despite all odds, to still believe.
Lots of questions
As an award-winning cinematographer, Billy Dickson makes his talents well-known throughout the film. There’s not much, if anything, to complain about in regards to the details of framing, lighting and such. However, as good as the shooting of the film is, the script does struggle at times. The pacing drags especially at the beginning of the film, and the use of flashbacks is slightly confusing at times. Several plot devices are used early on to get the action of the story moving. But the contrivances left so many questions that it was difficult to stay in the narrative.
Why can’t Matthew just tell everyone about the details of his inheritance? Why doesn’t Matthew have a better grasp of what’s happening with his company’s finances? Why can’t the townspeople come together to help produce the Christmas festival? How are such strong believers not connected to a church community that can help them in their poor economic condition? Are these characters really that one-dimensional? Don’t Matthew’s new employees need health insurance? And exactly how did that whole conspiracy thing work again? But these nagging questions don’t have to necessarily ruin the movie-watching experience. As the viewer, if you can suspend your disbelief concerning these plot points, then you will be able to fully enjoy the heart-felt drama of hope, kindness, and Christmas spirit.
Some great lessons to be learned
Ultimately, “Believe” is a simple film for the family with a genuine message of what Christmas is all about: sharing the love of Christ through generosity and helping others. The themes of hope and believing come through clear, and I think most people will respond to the film by: (1) giggling at all the quirkiness and inconsistent acting, and (2) wanting to snuggle up with loved ones with warmth and gratitude in their hearts. I think the most effective moral of the story is this: that just one small act of faith and kindness can multiply to impact hundreds of lives and even change an entire community. One seed grows to produce much fruit (John 12:24).
“Believe” opens in theaters December 2nd. The runtime is right around two hours so just make sure you use the potty beforehand. The film is rated PG for some violence, thematic elements, and brief mild language. For more info visit www.believe.film
Finley is a doctoral student researching Organizational Leadership. He can be reached at [email protected]