Pastor Matthew (Ted McGinley) gives an inspirational sermon to his congregation of belief in the Cross of Christ, and the importance to act on your belief. This sermon inspires the rest of the film’s action. Photo courtesy of PureFlix Entertainment

Faith and family in film

By  Erin Jamieson, Youth Speak News
  • March 13, 2015

Some are searching, some have found and some are sharing God’s love in a story that follows the apparently separate lives of a dozen people until they collide — literally — and their eyes are opened to the power of Christ’s cross.

That’s the premise of Do You Believe?, to be released in select theatres on March 20. The film is released by PureFlix Entertainment, a Christian movie studio that released the box-office hit God’s Not Dead, a film that resonated with viewers looking for faith-based family cinema.

Do You Believe? follows the story of 12 individuals as they go about their lives in a bustling city. As an inspirational family movie, this film does its job. It inspires emotion in the viewers. It makes you laugh, cry and believe right along with its characters.

The film plays to some fairly obvious stereotypes, and contains some fairly cliché dialogue, but this is not a film that is meant to be analyzed for its technical merits. Rather, this film is meant to be watched as an affirmation of the goodness of faith and the reassurance that though mysterious, God’s plan is ultimately working for us, not against us.

The film begins in a hospital, as nurse Elena (Valerie Dominguez) works with Dr. Farrell (Sean Astin) to save the life of a girl in anaphylactic shock (Alexa Penavega). A reformed convict, Joe (Brian Bosworth), invites a homeless mother (Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino) and her daughter to spend the night at his place, out of the cold. Pastor Matthew (Ted McGinley) encounters a street preacher who asks him to examine his true belief in the cross of Christ.

From here, the lives of these people begin to cross, as their families, friends and even enemies struggle through financial issues, faith crises and loss. On a rainy night, the characters collide in a car crash on a wet bridge that leads them all to realize just how tangled their lives were.

If you walk into this movie intent upon critical analysis, you will walk away let down. From this lens, it may seem that the story is tied up a little too neatly.

The film begins with a line of Scripture, James 2:17: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Though not a concept unfamiliar to Christians, this film does enforce the obligation to believe openly and boldly, even in the face of adversaries, persecution and unfavourable odds.

We see it in mainstream media, and we see it portrayed in the movie — the second you identify yourself as a Christian your argument loses validity. You are too preachy or your religious beliefs cloud your better judgment or prevent you from being objective. Many of the characters in the movie face the stigma of a loss of credibility due to their religious beliefs. When the characters begin to recognize this judgment may be unfounded, it gives hope to the validity of their faith.

Do You Believe? satisfies the growing market for faith-based films with a story about questioning, growing and, ultimately, acting in faith. It asks viewers the most profound questions believers are ever faced with and it shows viewers the power of belief and conviction. As central character Pastor Matthew says, “one day, the genius of God’s handiwork will be revealed. At the centre of it all, we find the cross… Personally, I can’t wait to see His masterpiece.”

(Jamieson, 19, is a second-year Knowledge and Integration student at the University of Waterloo, Ont.)

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