James Reed is a successful consultant in the big city, glad that he left his rural life behind. However, his old life starts calling him back when his father begins to have health problems, prompting James’ mother, brother, and sister to call on him to come help them run the family business: a rural bed and breakfast. James returns home, saying he will stay for a week. When he arrives, he finds his family’s business is not as good as they portrayed it. But he also finds that he still has feelings for one of the employees there. Even though James does not want to be home and his brother doesn’t want him there either, the Reed family will have to band together and work hard in order to combat a business rival who wants to buy out the bed and breakfast.
Production Quality (1 point)
Starting off, Changing Hearts is the typical story of a cheap Christian movie. The video quality and camera work is the strongest point of the production, giving this movie and good surface feel. However, as we usually say, there isn’t much past the surface. The sets are limited to the bed and breakfast building and property and some random ‘big city’ scenes. There’s nothing creative about the soundtrack and at times, there is loud background noise that overpowers the scene. There is really nothing to say about the editing—the movie just drags on and until it’s finally done. Perhaps the worst element of the production is a scene at the end in which a large crowd of people is supposed to be depicted, yet it’s an obvious production blunder, with a handful of people copied over and over again to make it look like a large crowd. Beyond this, there is nothing obviously wrong with the production of Changing Hearts, but there is nothing dynamic enough to cause it to stand out.
Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
Leading off the previous comments, the plot of Changing Hearts is extremely linear, with no twists or turns or creativity. It’s a simplistic prodigal son plot done quite poorly. The characters fit nicely into their predetermined molds: the prodigal character, the angry brother, the parents, the love interest, and the optional villain (in this case, I can sympathize, since it disturbingly reminds me of a real life person). Little is done to deepen these characters beyond their stereotypes. Dialogue is not utilized properly and is very vanilla. Characters are swept along by the inevitable plot that concludes abruptly and predictably. Life lessons are obviously taught throughout, but not in a way that causes the audience to connect with the real life events. The plot comes off in such a way that it seems like it takes place in a location outside of real life. But if it’s meant to be an allegory, it’s not indicated. In summary, this would have been fine for a first time film if more thought was put into it. From the get-go, the plot is very limited in scope and potential, so the most needs to be made of every element. This did not occur, thus warranting zero points.
Acting Quality (1.5 point)
In a strange twist, the acting is the strongest element of this film. It’s rare that the acting overshadows the other elements; usually acting goes hand in hand with the others. In this case, the acting is only better because it’s average and the rest of the film is sub-par. There is nothing glaringly horrible from this cast. Line delivery is pretty good. Emotions sometimes seem plastic, but sometimes they are not. This cast seems like it has a lot of potential, but it only comes out as average.
As time goes on, Christian films like this will unfortunately be forgotten and lost amidst a sea of cheap movies on thrift store shelves and yard sale tables. It frustrates us to see this sort of potential do to waste. Despite the uncreative plot, the tools were there to make this movie stand out, at least as a freshman creation. But unfortunately, Changing Hearts is just another one of those movies that will fade away.
Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points