May 10--The primary mission of faith-based movies is to entertain the faithful while also delivering a message to a larger audience. It's always a blessing when a film like "King's Faith" can do both.
The script by Paul Root and director Nicholas DiBella is heavy with scriptural messages delivered -- and this is the production's biggest plus -- by some first-rate performances. When you have good actors, the cinematic sermons don't sound so preachy and come across with a real sense of spiritual commitment.
"King's Faith" is the story of Brendan (Crawford Wilson), a young man who has lived most of his life on the dark side. After his most recent stint in jail, he lands in his 18th foster home, taken in by Mike (James McDaniel) and Vanessa (Lynn Whitfield), a couple dealing with their own demons.
Brendan's determined to stay out of trouble, bolstered by his newfound faith. The problem is that he's haunted by people from his past who try to pull him back into their evil world. It's up to Brendan to accept the movie's main theme -- that God will provide the answers -- or all his efforts will fail. Wilson turns in a solid performance as the high school student who broods more than a Cullen. He manages to get across the introspective life the character has selected without the role becoming too wooden and uninteresting. When he speaks, what the character has to say resonates with an honesty that gives the movie an internal strength. He's particularly good in scenes with McDaniel and Whitfield. That's not a surprise because both are such consummate actors that they elevate all around them. There's a scene where Vanessa confesses to Mike her loss of faith after a disaster in their life. The way the actors handle this emotionally draining scene is so powerful it lifts the movie higher and higher.
The filmmakers do commit a few cinema sins. DiBella's directing is a little stagnate. Along with Root, he's filled the script with stereotypical characters. The girl who wins Brendan's heart is a homecoming queen trying to hide the dark moments of her past. Even the family's friendly neighborhood cop is one doughnut away from being a caricature.
The lack of originality with these players is outweighed by the movie's core group of Wilson, McDaniel and Whitfield.
Don't let this film's faith-based themes keep you from going to see the movie. Even if you ignore the message, the movie stands up simply as a good family-based drama.
"King's Faith," rated PG-13 for violence, adult situations. Stars Crawford Wilson, James McDaniel, Lynn Whitfield. Directed by Nicholas DiBella. Running time: 107 minutes. Grade: B
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.
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