Discarded Things (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Grace Wyatt felt like she had finally buried her past by becoming a successful professor of music. However, her husband’s untimely death sends her back into a spiral of addiction and bitterness. Once Grace is able to recover, she’s assigned to live as a volunteer at a house program for troubled teens. Though Grace initially clashes with the leadership decisions of the program, she eventually finds her niche helping the teens find their voices. Nonetheless, Grace has no idea that she still has to make peace with her past to move forward in life.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, the production quality of Discarded Things is professional…at least it gets there eventually. In the beginning, there’s a driving soundtrack that doesn’t always fit the mood although the score is still intriguing. There are also some background sounds and sepia tone flashbacks. The editing is sometimes choppy, cutting off scenes for no good reason. However, all productions elements improved in the latter two-thirds of the film, offering good video quality and camera work. Also, sets, locations, and props are professional. The improvement is good enough to warrant a high score in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The creative team behind this screenplay really had a lot going for them as they demonstrated a strong understanding of how hidden church problems and childhood trauma can affect people for their entire lives. This narrative contains an excellent portrayal of fundamentalist legalism and its consequences, and this is done via a good application of flashbacks that provides believable reasoning for character motive. However, Discarded Things has a rare problem: it’s too short. The fact that so much content is squeezed into this movie creates various issues, such as too-obvious dialogue. The writers rushed through important sequences, using montages as a crutch and implying that substance abuse rehab is a really easy fix for people. Platitudes are also used to quickly solve problems. It’s very evident that too much is being covered in this linear plot with the limited amount of time that’s been allotted. There are many complex and interlocking storylines that we barely get time to explore, and this lack of development causes some otherwise meaningful events to occur without proper buildup, thus making them empty and meaningless. Though most of the conversations are good, the characters are under-developed, but their major potential can still be seen. There are obvious themes throughout the narrative that slightly tie everything together, but the conclusion of the film is quite cheesy. In the end, this section is a mixed bag that could have been so much more than this.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Despite a few moments of cast members over-acting and being a bit too dramatic, the acting is still very strong in Discarded Things. Karen Abercrombie appeared comfortable in her role, and Cameron Arnett is always a standout. This particular role for Cameron was perhaps his best to date. In the end, the acting is quite good, earning a great score.

Conclusion

This screenplay likely would have worked better as a series that blended what the protagonist learned from rehab with what she taught the teenagers. In this current form, this was too much content to cram into one movie, and this was a rare instance where we actually need to see more of these characters rather than less. We need to observe their journeys so that the payoffs don’t feel cheap due to lack of proper buildup. However, on the whole, some viewers will enjoy Discarded Things in its current state, and this film overall demonstrates huge potential for the future.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

Voiceless [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jesse has been recently discharged from the military, so his wife Julia pulls strings at an inner-city Philadelphia church, where she grew up, to get him a job as an outreach pastor.  Once there, Jesse desperately wants to make a difference everywhere he goes, but he and Julia are haunted by their own secrets from the past.  Jesse is plagued by constantly seeing young women enter an abortion clinic right across the street from where he wants to have an outreach center for the inner-city youth, and he is determined to do something about it.  However, he takes matters into his own hands and makes things worse by inviting his church’s criticism and making himself a target with law enforcement.  Will he and his wife be able to resolve their differences and make a real difference in a dark place?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Though Voiceless had a fairly limited budget, the production of this film is quite good.  This includes good video quality and fine audio quality, although there are some moments of shaky camera work.  There is also some odd filtering throughout that might have helped outdoor lighting.  The soundtrack is very good, and sets, locations, and props are very realistic, appropriate, and authentic.  Further, there are a few editing issues due to a large amount of content, but on the whole, this is a respectable effort that accompanies a very worthwhile film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

It’s rare to find a ‘cause’ movie that actually portrays real people living real lives, especially in the pro-life genre.  However, Voiceless stands out among the rest by developing flawed, gray, and accessible characters through rich dialogue, well-explained motives, and deep back stories.  The authentic struggles of real people are depicted in this plot and help to amend the common black and white perception of pro-life issues.  There are no heroes or villains here—only real people who make mistakes and try to rectify them.  Further, subtlety is employed very well without the use of narration.  The only issues to raise here pertain to a large amount of content that could not be fully included and to the lagging finish that tries to patch things up a bit too neatly.  Nonetheless, this is not enough to keep this plot from placing this film on the Hall of Fame.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The acting is the strongest point of this film as there are no errors to highlight here.  A little-known cast of people is very well-coached and well-utilized for this film.  Line delivery is nearly perfect, and emotions are very authentic.  This is a superb acting accomplishment and a great finish to a job well done.

Conclusion

Voiceless is a rare pro-life movie that will actually make a real difference.  Many people will be able to find their own stories in the stories of these characters.  There are no strawman portrayals of pro-life people or pro-abortion people here.  This is a real story that could happen anywhere and is one that shows the only way we can end abortion is not through heroics or fighting, but through prayer and community culture change.  Films like this one can also promote culture change, which is exactly what we are looking for.

 

Final Rating: 7 out of 10 points