The movie “Priceless,” presented by Roadside Attractions in association with the band for King & Country, stars band member Joel Smallbone (who actually gives a convincing American accent) and is directed by brother Ben Smallbone. “Priceless” is both the name and the theme of the movie… and I’m saying that it is worth the price — mostly referring to the cost of a movie ticket, but also I guess in regards to the time and resources that went into the production.
From what I can tell, there are two main purposes of this film: to help raise awareness of the ongoing social pandemic of human slavery/trafficking and to communicate a message that the human soul is precious and indeed priceless. And for these two noble efforts, I laud the “Priceless” team and do recommend that all age-appropriate persons go see and support the film. Slavery — to oppress, objectify and dehumanize another person — has probably always been the greatest social ill of all. Today, human trafficking has grown rampant like a vicious cancer, and I cannot think of any weightier social issue.
Priceless helps to shed a light on this evil industry, helping to expose and cast out the darkness. I wouldn’t want to say anything too negative about something that’s trying to do so much good. After all, it’s easy to criticize. It’s difficult to actually do something worthy of critique. But of course, this is a film review so there may be a few minor nit-picks and spoilers.
“How much am I worth?”
The question is sharp and poignant as it pierces the heart of James, a good but troubled man. A tattoo on James’ arm reads “let all you do be done in love.” He once had a great life, but with the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James unknowingly finds himself in shadows of a dark industry — human trafficking. Horrified by the shocking discovery, James must now decide what to do as he attempts to rescue Antonia and Maria from the nightmare by which they’ve been ensnarled.
By the end, James counts the cost and finds that the worth of these girls and every other human life is priceless. The film opens with his poetic narration: “We’re all on a journey, a road — full of delays, dead-ends; with bright and beautiful views, storm clouds and darkness too.” He acknowledges that sometimes on the journey we take a wrong turn leading us somewhere we didn’t want to go. But we just “keep on driving, keep on searching” until we find our way back.
Much of screenplay works in this lyrical fashion, and the song-like style is what the film really has going for it. In fact, many scenes look like they came more from a music video rather than a movie. But here also presents some weaknesses. Sometimes the dialogue comes off unnatural because it focuses more on big picture concepts like the internal conflict of the protagonist. The film would work better to focus more on what the characters should be doing rather than on their reluctance to do anything. In general, it’s better to show the conflict than talk about it. So because of this, the pacing drags and suffers at times; and character decisions were really confusing at times. To the films credit though, it at least keeps the run-time to an appropriate length at only a little more than an hour and a half.
As alluded to earlier, the cinematography was brilliant throughout. And perhaps my favorite part of the whole experience was the score. A hauntingly beautiful version of the song “Priceless” plays right before the climax of the film. Throughout, several slowed-down variations of the same song are used to craft the suffused score. The lyrics from “Priceless” by for King & Country fit perfectly with the film, and it was all clearly an intentional move.
“No matter what you’ve heard, this is what your worth; More than all the money or the diamonds and pearls. Oh this is who you are, Yea this is who you are. I see you dressed in white, Every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom, At the sight of you—oh so priceless. Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable; Darling, it’s beautiful, I see it all in you—oh so priceless.”
As James learns in the film, “The flames of tragedy can refine you; burn off everything until you finally see what’s important.” By the conclusion, we can all see what’s important—that every heart is priceless; that every person is someone’s brother, sister, son or daughter; that love can never be bought, it can only be given away.
Priceless comes to theaters on October 14 and is rated PG-13. For more info, visit: pricelessthemovie.com
Finley is a doctoral student researching Organizational Leadership. He can be reached at: [email protected]