Thursday, March 12, 2020

Review: I Still Believe

Release date: March 13, 2020
Running time: 115 minutes
Starring: Britt Robertson, K.J. Apa, Melissa Roxburgh 

I Still Believe is based on the early life of Christian music star Jeremy Camp.  It starts with Camp's (Apa's) early years at college and how he met Melissa Henning (Robertson), someone who had a significant impact on his faith and music.  The two start a whirlwind relationship that is met with lots of love, humor, and challenges that no one their age should face.  How the two deal with this forms a huge part of the movie and is where a lot of the faith-based message comes from.

I Still Believe does have a lot going for it.  First and foremost, K.J. Apa is fantastic as Jeremy Camp.  He is talented (doing about 85% of the vocals in the film and playing guitar) and funny, really highlighting what is special about the famous singer.  And, most importantly, he has fantastic charisma with Britt Robertson.  The relationship that these two share really drives the story and the underlying message of the film, and the clear connection the two have really shines through on the screen.  Additionally, although the movie is definitely a faith-forward film, it does ask some really tough questions and provide reasonable answers to those.  They're not all sunshine and overly optimistic, there are some bad times depicted in this film.  And, most importantly, the responses from the characters aren't always idealistic; I appreciated when some realistic answers were given to tough questions and situations. 

However, although this film follows Camp's life and his relationship with Melissa, this film is only based on a true story.  Although the main events and challenges of the film do seem to have happened, a lot of the journey between those points was tweaked and supplemented for Hollywood.  Specifically, how Jeremy Camp got his first break, how Jeremy and Melissa met, and an influential friend seem to have been tweaked for the purposes of the movie.  It is an amazing story as is, so it is a little disappointing that it was retooled for Hollywood.  And one thing that really struck me was the lack of diversity in the cast.  I'm sure that this was accurate for the community at Camp's college and maybe some of his concerts, but in re-crafting the story, I feel like the filmmakers should have added some diversity to the movie.  If they are going to rearrange aspects of his life, why not add additional characters that can speak to a broader movie audience?  And, although this is not a surprise for faith-forward movies, some of the lines were overly corny, though as I mentioned I appreciated that this film does have realistic responses to many tough questions.

I Still Believe tells an amazing story with solid performances by its two leads and an inspiring message that was tweaked a little too much for Hollywood in the wrong ways.  

Rent it

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