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April 3, 2020

I Still Believe (2020) --- "One Love Can Change Your Life"

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
    Growing up Jeremy Camp ( KJ Apa) did have much but he always had the love of his family (Shania Twain & Gary Sinise), who supported his dream of a musical career. After graduating high school in 1999, he leaves his Indiana home to go to a Christian college in California where he meets a girl named Melissa Henning (Britt Robertson). Their relationship is not an easy one and early on they are faced with life-altering decisions when Melissa gets sick but despite all that Jeremy knows that she is the one and chooses to stand by her side no matter what. Through the twists and turns, they discover that God is always present in the midst of suffering and that he turns all things around for our good. Directed by the Erwin Brothers (I Can Only Imagine, Mom’s Night Out) and based off of the memoir of the same name by Jeremy Camp, I Still Believe (2020) a faith-based romance drama about the remarkable true story of Christian singer, Jeremy Camp’s journey of love, loss, healing, hope, and faith. 
     This is the Erwin Brothers’ latest Christian music biopic after the success of I Can Only Imagine, which follows the story of the Christian band MercyMe's lead singer. The story talks about living outside of fear, which is a strong message that can sometimes be lost on people because they don’t know how to see beyond their current circumstances. However, this film tells in a way that allows the audience to connect with it and feel as though they're being spoken to personally. The main takeaway from I Still Believe is that you can meet anything head-on with faith and you don’t need to be some big Christian superstar to do that, you just have to be the person that God made you be and be receptive to his Word. It’s about remaining faithful to God not only when miracles happen but even when the enemy tries to attack you because he makes all things work together for my good (Romans 8:28). This is a story about how a couple’s journey of faith-inspired people to renew theirs and know that no matter how hard things get God will always be there with you. Right in the middle of the fire with you. And considering everything that's going on in the outside world, people need mature and clean stories about things that matter, things that will lift their faith and build their hope, especially those who don’t know any better. 
     The filmmakers are not subtle in foreshadowing what’s about to happen in each scene, but that doesn’t take away from the richness and intimate nature of the story. The video quality, cinematography, and audio are cleverly and creatively artistic. The film’s soundtrack seamlessly integrates Jeremy Camp’s music in a way that enhances the audience’s experience but doesn’t turn it into a product placement show. In addition to the visuals and music, the film’s editing is incredible. The film is split into three sections that are each of a completely different tone but it's all weaved together into one cohesive film that will resound with many viewers for generations to come. The first act is light and fun, the main characters are practically on top of the world, it's young and innocent. The second act is more mature and serious, there are some moments that try to lighten things up but it eventually ends on an ominous and serious note. The final act is heartbreaking at first but soon the characters start to heal and then end on a hopeful note. This was a story that was difficult to properly present due to its scope, but the filmmakers handled the editing like professionals with respect and sensitivity.
     The cast performances are incredible throughout. KJ Apa (Riverdale), a young Samoan-Kiwi actor from New Zealand, brings a lot of charisma to his performance as Jeremy Camp. Here he gets to showcase his musical talent by being featured in several songs and playing the guitar for the role. Although Apa garnered fame in America by appearing as lead character Archie Andrews on the near-soap opera/cartoon TV series Riverdale, he is an incredible actor who understands how to project a wide range of emotional depth that allows for him to bring audiences along on this emotional journey. Britt Robertson (For the People) beautifully balances herself between love and anger and grief as Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp. Robertson most excels when she gets to interact with more emotional content and her character’s professions of faith help to anchor the film in certain difficult scenes. Together Robertson and Apa have great chemistry together but this is no surprise considering that they acted as love interests in A Dog’s Purpose (2017), where they also had great chemistry. The rest of the supporting cast - Gary Sinise (Sgt. Will Gardner) as Jeremy's father Tom; Shania Twain (singer/songwriter) as Jeremy's mother Terry; Melissa Roxburgh (Manifest) as Melissa's sister Heather; Nathan Parsons (Roswell: New Mexico) as Melissa friend and The Kray lead singer, Jean-Luc; Abigail Cowen (Stranger Things, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as Jeremy's second wife Adrienne - all performed great and while their roles were small or limited that didn’t stop them from being heard.

    Overall, I Still Believe (2020) is an entertaining faith-based music biopic that stands apart from most romantic dramas of its kind because it mixes realness and raw emotion with a wonderful story about hope, faith, and love that God has given us. The visuals and soundtrack were beautiful, while the cast performances were solid and impactful throughout. If you enjoyed the Erwin Brothers' faith-based film I Can Only Imagine (2017) then you're going to enjoy I Still Believe. This is an inspirational and powerful love story that you don’t want to miss.

Final Vote --- 8 of 10 stars

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