Reviewed by: Scott Brennan
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
|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|
“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).
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.
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.