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Movie Review

No Greater Love

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material.

Reviewed by: Scott Brennan

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Adults
Christian Romance Drama
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
DVD: January 19, 2010
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate Films

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer



Mercy in the Bible


FORGIVENESS—How can I be and feel forgiven? Answer

GUILT—If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer

Forgiveness of sin

Goodness of God

Featuring: Jay Underwood (Dave), Danielle Bisutti (Heather Stroud), Anthony Tyler Quinn (Jeff Baker), Aaron Sanders (Ethan Baker), Alexis Boozer (Katie Saunders), Cameron Sanders (Festival Kid), Michelle Delynn (Leslie Torre), Travis Herche (Pizza Guy), Eric Bivens-Bush (T.J. Little), Christine Mawhorter (Lindsay), Seth Axen (Audience Member #7), Spurgeon Rice (Max Torre), Lynn Vakay (Sherry Hamilton), Dallas Johnson (Police Officer), Maricel Schneider (Coffee Girl)
Director: Brad J. Silverman
Producer: Carmel Entertainment, Coram Deo Studios, Matt Green, Matt Green, Brandon Rice, Russ Rice, Henry Schneider
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

“First love. Second chance.”

The film “No Greater Love” was released directly on DVD this third week of January 2010, distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment and Thomas Nelson Publishing, bypassing any theater engagements—other than its previews last summer. It is the first feature film directed by Brad J. Silverman and the screenplay was co-written by Silverman and friends James and Elizabeth Killian, and is based on a story by Brandon Rice, the film’s editor. It is a product of Carmel Entertainment Group and Coram Deo Studios, a newly created Christian production company—one that I hope we will be seeing more from in the future. It stars Anthony Tyler Quinn (Jeff, the father), Danielle Bisutti (Heather, the mother), and Jay Underwood (Dave, church friend) and features Aaron Sanders (Ethan) as the son—all seasoned actors, who did a fine job in the film. There are additional great supporting roles played by cast members Alexis Boozer (Katie, the girlfriend) and Eric Bivens-Bush as the Jeff’s business partner, “T.J.”

The film, as its trailer announces, is about first love, and a second chance. The first love part is that Jeff and Heather were childhood sweethearts, inseparable soul mates, and everything seemed to be going well—until they weren’t. After Heather’s first and only child, she sinks into a deep depression, fueled by Jeff’s blind ambition and devotion to his work, leaving little time for her or their son. Delving into self-medication, she does the unthinkable, and disappears, leaving Jeff to raise their son by himself. This background story comes neatly packaged in the opening credits.

Fast forward 10 years and the movie begins with Jeff now looking at the prospect of marriage with a new girlfriend named Katie. He wants his son’s approval before going ahead and just when it looks like the green light is about to be given, Jeff’s world is shaken to the core. In a dramatic fashion, in a way that only God could orchestrate, Heather re-enters Jeff’s life—only now she’s become a Christian. Now comes the second chance part.

The questions linger: What does he do now? Can he forgive her? Does he really want to be with her? And what should he tell his son Ethan? These questions are all dealt with through some clever script-writing, using Jeff’s coffee shop friend Dave (Jay Underwood), the caring Christian, as the sounding board for Jeff to make up his mind. [An interesting side note here is the fact that, after 20 years in film, Jay went on to seminary, and later became the Senior Pastor of Weaverville First Baptist Church, in Northern California. He came out of retirement, so to speak, just to play this role.]

What happens in the remainder of the film leads to the climax—in a way that truly brings glory to God, and reemphasizes the reality of the scripture which says,

“With men this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Content for Concern

The opening of the film has some loud fighting scenes between Jeff and Heather. There is some drinking at a few places during the film, between Jeff and his girlfriend, Jeff and his business partner and even by Jeff on his own—which seemed a little out of character. The story deals with some pretty emotional material, which may be too much for a younger child to view, especially the abandonment issue by Ethan’s mother in the beginning. All in all, the script handles the issues with sensitivity and care, especially in light of the subject matter.

Summary and teachable moments

There were many great things about the film, other than the well-written story. The original music by Michelle Tumes added quite a bit to the movie, especially during the time-lapsed montages that appeared throughout. While Brad’s background has been with writing more children’s productions, or short documentaries, his efforts are outstanding in this film, and should be applauded. In many ways this felt much like a “made for TV” movie, perhaps for Lifetime television, but with a Christian message. That’s not a negative; it was just an overall impression. I guess it felt like a Christian romance is supposed to feel, but I don’t have any of those in memory to compare it to, so I am not really sure.

What I do know is that there is a lot of heart and soul in this movie. I sort of expected there would be, which is why I bought it—instead of just renting it from the local video store this opening weekend. It’s the type of film you can watch more than once, or pass along to some friends or family who may need a “pick-me-up” in their marriage. It truly makes you aware of the providence of God and his sovereignty in all of our lives. For me, it will be added to the collection of other films on my shelf like it, “Facing the Giants,” and “Fireproof,” both of which are great faith-builders, to name just two.

Probably the best thing about this movie is the way it lends itself to be a great vehicle for teaching in the Body of Christ. At the official Web site, they have even made downloadable Bible studies in PDF format for Christians to use covering topics like despair, forgiveness, obedience and evangelism—all of which are addressed in the film. While the movie may have become a tiny bit preachy in terms of explaining the marriage and divorce “do’s and don’ts” according to the scriptures, it also has an opposite benefit. It can be a great tool to demonstrate just what Paul means in Corinthians and how important it is to be equally yoked before anyone enters into the covenant of marriage. I can see this film as a great vehicle for pre-marital counseling as well.

My advice would be to buy the DVD. It’s a worthy investment. If not, be sure to pick it up on your next trip to the local video store. You will be blessed by watching it; I can assure you of that.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This is one of the finest films of its kind that my wife and I have ever seen. It tackles a subject that in our present day with a very Biblical approach as divorce within the evangelical church occurs with epidemic proportions. Near the end of the film I was taken with two outstanding parts, one being a prayer delivered at the conclusion of a home Bible study in which the words indicating God’s work as being sovereign in salvation were strongly and clearly enunciated—excellent. And the second being the pastor’s insistence that while the marriage never knew divorce, then the couple should be reunited because it was the desire of the unbelieving partner. Very in keeping with Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 7.

Finally, who can not be touched with Jeff’s desire in the arms of his wife to cry out, “I want what you have!” There is evangelism within marriage. The church as a whole needs to see this film. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jim Duval, age 67 (Canada)
Positive—I’m make this short—I’m surprised this film has not gotten more attention—it’s a wonderful film and not to take anything away from the Fireproof producers and directors, but this film is done w/ a higher level of professionalism, scripting, acting and musical score. The film is so meaningful to a believer and the actors really convey the pain the characters go through so well. Excellent cast, excellent film—maybe one two many musical montages, but as Christian films go where frankly we often have to lower our movie quality standards, you won’t have to on this one. The reconciliation and committment to do things God’s way and not man’s way are awesone!!! Cried through almost half the film—I love when people live for God. Rent or buy for anyone 16 or older is my recommendation.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Judahg, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Story on forgiveness, faithfulness in the midst of obstacles.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Doe Neal, age 63 (USA)
Positive—When I heard of this film, I was very interested in seeing it. As the founder and director of Shattered Men, a ministry that deals with domestic abuse as well as other abuse, we see this played out often. We also see that almost every “Christian” ministry that deals with abuse accepts the traditional gender feminist approach to put all the blame on men (although half of the victims of abuse are men who only have a few resources of any type for help and essentially none from a biblical viewpoint), and they even suggest divorce at the first sign of trouble. This is “not” God’s plan!

Most do not realize that mothers do abandon their husbands and children much more often than we are told. I have talked to hundreds of men who have had this happen.

Although I rated this “better than average” simply because it shows real human emotions that we deal with everyday, I believe it is essential for Christian movies to do this as it is the only way we can show the difference between “being” a Christian and saying we are one. Some things I picked up on are the things we do everyday. When Heather was faced with some tough choices, she sought advice and was told that although they could not explain what was happening, they did know their GOD and His ways are above our ways.

I especially liked the fact that the Christians stated none of the events happened by accident and that GOD was in control at all times. We tell the men and women who come to us this same thing…and many who have come have been within moments of suicide when we tell them it was not a coincidence that they came to Shattered Men.

“No Greater Love” is a story about reconciliation and that is the story of Jesus. It is also our story, because many of us have left our first love, but HE does not let us go. No Jeff was not a Christian, but GOD would not let him sign some papers, so it does show that GOD was in control. Even though he moved several times and Heather could not find him, GOD knew where he as… and HE arranged for her to be in the right place at the right time.

Yet one thing most may have missed in watching this is a message I speak about often…the hidden cost of sin! You see, sin always cost us more than we can afford, and it always cost others than the one doing it. Yes, Heather sinned when she left her husband and someone else paid part of the cost ten years later. Who? Katie paid when she fell in love with Jeff and saw her world collapse around her through no fault of her own. (I do appreciate that Jeff asked his son’s advice before he was going to ask Katie to marry him.) Heather paid part of the cost for Jeff’s sin by not putting her above ambition, as it helped her become addicted to alcohol and a severe depression.

I, also, appreciate the pastor who although he saw Jeff being verbally abusive to his son, did not condemn him but loved him in spite of it, because he looked beyond Jeff’s faults and saw his need.

My friends… THIS is what brings people TO Christ instead of driving them away! This is why Jeff was able to look at his wife and just as the fireman in “Fireproof” was able to say …I want what you have. Heather was changed because she met a man named… JESUS! When Jesus passes by no one is ever the same again. When we really follow HIM… no one should ever be the same again when they meet us because we should be reflecting HIM. Since starting Shattered Men, the best thing anyone has ever said to me was… I see Jesus in you. I never want that to change.

I will be strongly suggesting to everyone in Shattered Men to see this film!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Pastor Ken, age 63 (USA)
Positive—The story is a good story. It has a good moral and very good values. The plot is good and definitely has a great storyline. The music in the film is great and the setting very believable.

The movie is completely clean with no foul language, sexual content, violence (with the exception of a married couple arguing intensely), and the Lord’s name is never taken in vain. With that said, this movie is sub-par quality wise which is to be expected from an independent film maker. The camera work made it seem more like a made-for-tv movie with acting that leaved a lot to be desired. However, I still say support this movie. If anything, because it was so clean.

Rent it or buy it! Christians should support fellow Believers who are trying to take a stand in the film industry. How are Christian films going to get better if we do not support them? So I say, watch it and enjoy it, but take it for what it is, a step (similar to “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof”).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Jacob Airey, age 21 (USA)
Positive—We rented and saw this movie as a family with children 11 and 13. When the movie first started, our kids made comments that they didn’t want to watch it (as it begins immediately with a husband and wife fighting, crying and throwing things). Honestly, my children seemed kind of distracted and bored during various points in the movie, but they sat through it, and I was glad that they were able to be exposed to the great messages that the movie offered.

Personally, I was mixed on my feelings of the movie. At many points throughout, I found myself distracted by what seemed to be a really strange camera angle here or there, a constant panning back and forth pattern between people in different locations, some bad lighting here and there, some so-so acting in certain scenes and a pace that seemed a little too slow at times. It’s sad and unfortunate, because these are so often the same elements that show up in pretty much every Christian movie, and it so often gives them this sense of cheapness.

On the other hand, I thought much of the acting by the main characters was good, the message in the movie was excellent, and it was great to see people actually honoring God, praying and going to His word for guidance in a movie. My wife and I were both crying at the end of the movie so it definitely had an impact and meaning to us. I guess I just wish that Christian movies as a whole could move a littler farther in the areas mentioned above, I think it would give them more impact and appear less cheesy to many people.

This movie was definitely a step in the right direction and was better than many of the Christian films we have seen in the areas of acting and scripting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Mike, age 41 (USA)
Positive—A very touching, heart-provoking film. The acting was better than most Christian movies, and I loved the music by Michelle Tumis.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Lizzie Barkis, age 18 (USA)
Positive—What a beautiful film: open, honest, and lovely. Any mushy parts were minor and limited, and the message of forgiveness runs strong. It felt like much more than a TV movie, just as worthy of theatrical release as “Fireproof,” and the music!! Michele Tumes is an amazing singer, and this film tuned me in to her art. Highly recommended!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jennifer, age 26 (USA)
Neutral—The movie ended poorly. Sure, it was “clean,” in the sense that there are no profanity, nudity or violence issues. And the beginning was believable. But in the end, Jeff, a non-Christian, wants his wife of 10 years earlier back. But, meanwhile, she has become a Christian. The drama revolves around the point of whether they are technically divorced or not (he never signed the final legal papers) and what obligation she has in being submissive to a man she was married to ten years earlier.

***SPOILER*** Without Jeff taking Jesus as Savior, nor any martial counseling, nor any official recognition such as remarriage vows, she moved back in. I cannot imagine any Christian counselor recommending that outcome.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Paul Carpenter, age 49 (USA)
Neutral—Just observations: 1) I thought that the technical/legal definition of marriage was far over-emphasized over the substance and reality of a true relationship. What would have been far more meaningful, when Jeff first asked Heather to move back in with him would have been Heather reiterating her love even if she felt she had to tell him no (instead of her flatly telling him “I can’t” with no explanation).

2) This situation, where these 2 people got the chance to reunite after years of separation and dealing with the “messy” stuff behind them, is not realistic at all. How many of us get the chance to leave behind spouse and children, deal with our “mess” and come back all fixed up? I had to recover from my past of abuse and grief while still together with my husband and with 4 kids to care for to boot. Believe me, it was complicated and painful. But God saw us through, and I can’t help but think that my situation is more real, and more accurate of how God WANTS to work, than what was shown in this movie.

3) I thought Jeff’s and Heather’s characters were superbly acted.

4) I thought that the views of marriage and divorce conflicted in the movie. First the pastor acknowledges that Jeff and Heather were once married but assumes they are now divorced. He and Dave admit that God hates divorce (implying that it would have been better if Jeff and Heather had never been divorced).

However, the conflict comes when they tell Jeff he cannot re-marry Heather because now she is a believer, and he is not. Huh??? If they were married in the sight of God (and the law) once, and the only thing that changed were the legalities, then the re-union should never have been opposed, despite the disparity of beliefs. The legal circumstances would have needed to be changed again, but that should have been the only hesitation on anybody’s part. This was, in spite of my strong background of Scriptural marriage beliefs, a rather confusing and really unacceptable part of the plot. No wonder Jeff ended up falling asleep over his Bible!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mrs. Miller, age 36 (USA)
Negative—I really didn’t enjoy this movie. My main problem with this movie is that the plot was full of holes. ***SPOILER*** The man’s wife went missing 10 years ago, even making it in the papers, but he was never under suspicion of her murder. Even though he is portrayed as a workaholic, his son is a happy, well-adjusted child, without any difficulties or abandonment issues, that would be typical in that situation. He was about to propose to a new girlfriend, but later it turns out that he had “never signed the divorce papers.” Most people would clear up that detail before proposing. Also, “THE divorce papers” would indicate that she drew some up, which isn’t the same as just disappearing with no notice. This question was never cleared up.

If she was headlong into drugs and alcohol, while she was missing, like the movie says, chances are the police would have found her and that information would have gone to missing persons. If she was working any type of job under her real name she could have been found. She claimed to have tried to find them. Did she try contacting missing persons? I would think she would have been in their files. His name and business name had stayed the same all that time. In the age of internet search engines and private detectives who can be hired to use them even if you don’t know how, this claim is simply unbelievable.

Then, since they are still married she eventually moves back in. If she was on drugs, did she sleep around or use needles? Has she been tested for HIV and come up clean? Has he? We still bear the consequences of the choices we have made, even when we are forgiven. Issues like this would absolutely have to be considered in a situation like this before a couple could be brought back together. Last of all her part was played with a waxen smile; she seemed more like a cult member or a Barbie doll, than a Christian.

Given the situation, there should have been tangible regret on her part. While we are forgiven of all our sins when we come to Christ, we will still regret some of the things we have done; especially if those sins hurt others. This is especially true when those sins hurt others.

The move did have positive values and a positive message. My husband really liked the film. The soundtrack by Michelle Tumes was outstanding. But it was very poorly written.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Laura S, age 43 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This is a touching, heartwarming story. My mom and I loved it the whole way through. It certainly earned its “Good” rating. I highly recommend it! …My only complaint is that at times it can be a bit slow transitioning from scene to scene.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alexxus, age 13 (USA)