A Matter of Faith

Film Review By Chet Tan, Library Volunteer

“A Matter of Faith” centers around the Whittakers, a Christian family whose daughter Rachel (Jordan Trovillon) is going off to college. However, Rachel gets the shock of her life when she realizes that her renowned biology instructor, Professor Kaman (Harry Anderson), teaches the theory of evolution. This leaves Rachel so shaken that she tells her father Stephen (Jay Pickett) about it, prompting him to confront Professor Kaman about the “lies” he is teaching his students. In response, Professor Kaman invites Stephen to a public debate on the subject, which Stephen accepts. And so begins the crusade of the Whittaker family to share the truth of the creation story, which builds up to the climactic night of the public debate at the university that doesn’t go down as expected.

Admittedly, this is a difficult film to watch. The protagonists are supposed to be Christians, and yet it is difficult to sympathize with them when their determination to stand by their convictions borders on intolerance. Stephen’s demands of what is presumably a secular university seem to fly in the face of academic freedom. There is a scene where Evan (Chandler Macocha), a fellow Christian student who befriends Rachel, walks up to another student he doesn’t even know and then proceeds to publicly dress him down for having different beliefs. These onscreen actions can lead one to ask: is this how uncompromising a Christian should be?

Thus, the film’s resolution, which puts forth the proposition that both sides of the story should be presented so that everyone can decide for themselves what the truth is, comes as a welcome surprise. This is a message that all Christians need to hear, as we, in our zeal, may sometimes substitute Christ’s humility with self-righteousness, forgetting that our words must “…always be full of grace, seasoned with salt….” (Colossians 4:6 NIV) It’s just that this film takes a rather haphazard path to get to this message.
There is also a plot thread involving Rachel and another student, but I had to re-watch their scenes to make sure I understood what was going on. Without giving too much away, it can only be assumed that, in an effort to make the film more family-friendly, some of the dialogue ended up being vague and may need to be sensitively explained to younger viewers.

Watching “A Matter of Faith” had its challenges, just as its characters had to go through trials for their faith. The film certainly takes a roundabout way of getting its message across, but the payoff is worth it.

Director: Rich Christiano
Distributor: Five & Two Pictures (2014)

For Love’s Sake

A Film Review by Chet Tan, Library Volunteer

The moment I heard the character of Peter Walker, played by Richard Brimblecombe, explain to his son, James, played by William Wenlock, that becoming a Christian is not about being good, but submitting to Jesus, I knew this film was going in the right direction. “For Love’s Sake” depicts the struggles of a Christian family that is persecuted for their beliefs. However, this is not a period piece about the martyrdom of the early Church, but a drama set in 1970’s England.

Our protagonist is Mary Walker, a recently widowed mother of two young boys. At the outset, the challenges of her situation are obvious, and the viewer would not be faulted for expecting this movie to be about how our Christian heroine struggles with single parenthood amidst tragic loss. Except this film is not about that, as Mary’s depression makes caring for her children impossible at the outset, and eventually leads to her sons being taken away from her. Her efforts to pick herself up and get her children back leads to a steady stream of opposition, some of which presents a unique challenge and an unexpected twist.

Admittedly, the film has a low-budget feel, but this did not detract from its impact. If anything, it drove home the real world feel of the movie, which is appropriate, since the DVD’s packaging indicates that it is based on a true story.

The acting is not spectacular, but then a spectacle would not have been appropriate. Claire Walkington’s portrayal of Mary is understated, as she slowly rouses from her helplessness to a restrained determination when she resolves to bring her children home. William Wenlock and Luke Foxall, the latter playing older son Paul Walker, subtly show us the simplicity of how children would cope with these kinds of trials, devoid of unrealistic hysterics or drama, but from two very different perspectives.

The Walker family’s refusal to compromise their beliefs is nothing short of heroic. If you have ever assumed that Christians in the developed world don’t suffer for their faith, then consider “For Love’s Sake.”

Director: Andrew Walkington
Distributor (Philippines): Heartshaper Video, c2016.