Dan's Review: All The Faith in the World Can't Save "I Still Believe" From Mediocrity
Mar 15, 2020 12:05AM
● By Dan Metcalf
Britt Robertson and K.J. Apa in I Still Believe - © 2020 Lionsgate.
I Still Believe (Lionsgate)
Rated PG for thematic material.
Starring KJ Apa, Britt Robertson, Gary Sinise, Shania Twain, Melissa Roxburgh, Nathan Parsons, Abigail Cowen.
Written by Jon Erwin, Jon Gunn, and Madeline Carrol, based on “I Still Believe” by Jeremy Camp.
Directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin.
Faith is a slippery thing for most people. The conundrum of believing in that which is unseen to protect you and your family, effectively trusting in a deity to circumvent science and nature and deliver a “miracle” can be daunting, at best. Why would the deity of your choosing grant your wish, while so many others (who make the same fervent pleas) get passed over? Such questions went through my mind as I watched I Still Believe, a new film based on the true story of Jeremy Camp, a popular Christian musician.
KJ Apa plays Camp as a teen who leaves his mom and dad in Indiana (Gary Sinise and Shania Twain) arriving at a Christian college in California where he intends to study theology. During a concert one night, Camp meets Melissa (Britt Robertson) and immediately falls in love. Their affair hits a few snags as Melissa attempts to break up with Jeremy’s mentor and pal Jean-Luc (Nathan Parsons), who is a fairly successful Christian pop star already. Jeremy separates from Melissa and heads home from Christmas when he learns she is deathly ill back in California. He immediately borrows his dad’s car and races back to see Melissa in the hospital, where he learns she has cancer, with bad odds of surviving. Jeremy confesses his love and devotion to Melissa and vows to use his musical talent and faith in God to heal her. The rest of the story follows a predictable path, with hope, healing, and disappointment that tests the faith of everyone, especially Jeremy.
I Still Believe, while certainly upbeat, positive and chock full of sweet, clean Christian values is a very long ride to a simple message (you gotta have faith). That leaves audiences with just under two hours of enough sweet, wholesome melodrama to last a lifetime. The only certified “star” actor in the cast is Gary Sinise, who gives the movie a tiny portion of much-needed gravitas, Shania Twain (not known for her acting prowess) notwithstanding. Britt Robertson may have a few feature films to boast about, like 2007’s Dan in Real Life and the atrocious 2015 Disney self-promoting Tomorrowland, but the rest of the cast couldn’t get recognized in a police lineup. All this B-level participation and artificial sweetness make I Still Believe feel like a dressed up made-for-TV movie, perhaps more suitable for one of those Christian cable channels.
Getting back to the faith component of the movie, the conclusion of Is Still Believe falls on the idea that even though God doesn’t heal every one of their physical ailments, but believing in a higher being and higher purpose has its benefits, especially if one person’s struggles can inspire others to live a better life.
Even though I think the movie is a cinematic failure on many levels, it did serve a purpose to give me a little perspective. I saw I Still Believe the week after my own mother’s funeral following her struggle with cancer. My family and I believe in a God, like many others, yet we did not get the outcome or “miracle” we’d hoped and prayed for. I suppose having faith means more than placing an order with God and expecting the preferred outcome. In the words of a recent sermon from one of my own religious leaders, sometimes “faith” means having the faith to not be healed, knowing that there’s more to the bigger plan than the flesh and bones of this life. I still believe that.
"I Still Believe" Trailer