Beautifully Broken [2018] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The Hartley Family appears to have it all on the outside; they are a seemingly successful American family.  However, little do they know that their lives are about to become far more complicated than before.  They inadvertently cross paths with William Mwizerwa, a Rwandan refugee who moved from Kenya to America to try to make a new life for his family, whom he had to flee the Rwandan genocide with.  These lives also intersect with another Rwandan family who has been forever changed by the genocide.  Little do they know that collectively, they will experience both brokenness and God’s redemption after brokenness in ways they never before dreamed.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Beautifully Broken is an independent film that has finally come to fruition after being in the works for a while, and it bears some key hallmarks of an indie production.  Though the production begins in a fairly rough manner, including wild camera work, weird light filters, and dizzying flashbacks, this is mainly only the first third of the film.  It seems like this part of the film was produced separately from the rest of the movie since the remainder of the film has a significant quality increase.  This is evident as the camera work, video quality, and audio quality all make marked improvements.  The soundtrack is effective and culturally appropriate; however, sometimes sets and locations do not fully live up to the hype.  Nevertheless, this production does enough in the latter two-thirds to make this section overall above average.  It seems like time was spent to improve this part of the film, and they likely did the best they could with the budget they had.  The one drawback is that the editing does not improve throughout the film, but this is is mainly due to the large amount of plot content.  As a whole, this is a great first-time production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

It’s an excellent idea to begin your movie career with a complex true story rather than to use original content, especially since we have a deficit of creative screenwriters in Christian film.  However, one of the main pitfalls of using a true story is trying to include too much content.  In some ways, it seems like the writing team of Beautifully Broken bit off more than they could chew, but this does not diminish the great message this powerfully true story has to offer.  The downside is that there are one too many ‘filler’ scenes that waste precious time; the sheer amount of content in this plot does not allow space to develop the characters as much as they could have been, and narration and expository dialogue is used too often as a shortcut for full character and story development.  However, despite its rough beginning and inconsistency in the middle, the final third of the plot are definitely worth the wait, and they keep this section higher than it would have normally been.  This writing team definitely has more potential in the future once they master organization and character development.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

It’s possible that the uneven and inconsistent acting is the main thing that derailed Beautifully Broken from a possible Hall of Fame run. While some cast members, like Benjamin Onyango, are very good in their performances, other cast members, like Scott William Winters, cancel out any good that is done.  Once again, Onyango is not given the space he needs to fully show his potential as an actor.  However, for the most part, emotional performances are believable and effective.  Costuming is culturally appropriate, and great efforts were taken to cast culturally authentic cast members.  Overall, this rounds out a great first effort.

Conclusion

A lot of work has clearly been put into making Beautifully Broken happen after a fairly long period of time has passed, and the finished product is both better than most films and not as good as it could have been.  There is plenty of positive in this film, and it is likely worth your time to see when it releases.  There is a great message to learn, and this story is definitely worth being told.  In summary, this film is a great start to a promising career, so it will be interesting to see what they have to offer next.

 

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

 

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The Song [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jedidiah King has long lived in the shadow of his father David King, famous country music star.  His dad’s agents are pressuring him to make a name for himself by being his own artist instead of trying to replicate his father’s glory days.  Jed doesn’t know where he is going to receive his inspiration until one day, while scoping out a new gig in a small town, he meets a girl who changes his entire outlook on life.  She inspires him to sing for her and to write music for her, thus giving him a new direction in life.  After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Jed’s music for his new wife suddenly lands him with unexpected popularity with the public.  His new agent convinces him to use his new identity to make a name for himself in the entertainment industry, and all seems well at first.  But as Jed is asked to make compromise after compromise in exchange for more popularity, he finds his world crashing down around him.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

For a first time church production, The Song has high production quality.  The camera work is great and the sets are well-constructed.  The movie has an overall real-life feel.  There are a lot of artistic and musical overlays that give the movie a character of its own.  It seems directed and produced well, except where editing is concerned.  Some scenes seems unnecessary and the movie has several additional endings that make it drag on.  Otherwise, there is nothing wrong in this category.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

The Song deals with some very difficult yet realistic topics.  The plot is a mixed bag due to this and due to the fact that it is problematic to transpose a Biblical story on top of a modern day setting.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this concept, some elements of it come off as cheesy, such as the character names.  But still, it is a noble effort.  As previously mentioned, the issues portrayed in the plot are not completely family-friendly.  While the issues explored do not need to be ignored, as is a common Christian custom, Box Office Revolution feels that they should have been presented in a more palatable manner.  A lot of time is spent on depravity, which is to be expected when depicting an allegory on King Solomon.  Still, it is done in a pretty good manner.  Yet BOR feels that potential was left on the proverbial playing field.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The acting is pretty good, considering this is a basically ‘amateur’ cast.  Sometimes they did not have much to work with, but some of the lines and delivery seem forced.  Still, Alan Powell and Ali Faulkner are great in their roles.  In the end, The Song shows that ‘professional’ actors are not always needed.

Conclusion

The Song is a difficult movie to contend with for multiple reasons.  Fame and popularity are corrupting, and Christians do not need to be ignorant of these real issues.  However, dwelling on depravity too much reduces a potentially redemptive movie to average Hollywood garbage.  The Song walks the line between redemptive and hopeless, and BOR is uncertain which side it falls on in the end.  However, the message is important and may reach audiences outside of the church effectively.  In short, this is a great movie for a beginning crew, and we expect greater things from them in the future.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points