I grew up and actually worked on staff as a Video Editor at a popular non-denominational Christian church in Corpus Christi called Church Unlimited, listening to the contemporary Christian artist Jeremy Camp, the person that this film is based on. Not only did our church play music by Camp, but we actually had the artist himself visit and host a filled-to-capacity concert that was incredible. I Still Believe is a film that is targeting an audience member like myself but I truly believe (no pun intended) that it might actually appeal to a wider secular audience too. The film is saddening, heartwarming, and displays the admirable faith of two people who endure an excruciating hardship.
Based on a true story and the Christian artist’s memoir, KJ Apa (Riverdale) portrays a confident Jeremy Camp who falls in love with a beautiful woman named Melissa, played by Britt Robertson, during their time in college. The film shows how the young duo fall in love and eventually marries, despite knowing that Melissa is dying due to cancer. Unfortunately, Melissa continues to be unfathomably sick and this film displays the couple’s struggle while hoping and trusting in God. Gary Sinise and Shania Twain play Camp’s supporting parents.
The theme of continuously finding hope in the midst of unbearable pain is evident in this film. Christians will be able to relate to and find the faith that this couple has to be beautiful. Secular audiences may find their resilience to be charming or I could also see them finding it to be contrived, or fake, because it is hard to imagine the faith-filled response that Camp’s character has in response to many of the terrible life-changing events that happen. I personally found it commendable. Regardless of the type of audience member seeing the film, everyone will love the protagonist and the way that he loves his wife. Despite how their faith is perceived, people want to be loved the way Jeremy loved- unconditionally and at a significant other’s side until the end. KJ Appa gives an emotional, charismatic, and realistic portrayal of a man who has found the love of his life and is going to stand by her side, trusting in God, no matter what challenges that they face.
The structure of the plot and timing of a few events did make the story feel as if it was being rushed along and that the filmmakers had minimal interesting in-between moments after pivotal events. Particularly, there’s one moment where Jeremy and Melissa are in a conflict. Camp heads back to his hometown and as soon as he arrives, he must drive all the way back because something terrible has happened to Melissa. This certainly helps the pacing, as the 1 hour and 56 minutes is quick-and-to-the-point with key events falling one after another. Additionally, because the film is based on true events and, as incredible as those events may seem, if this is the way that they unfolded then it only makes sense for them to tell this story in this manner.
If you are not familiar with the true life events I urge you not to look them up, as this film may not end the way that you think it will and it is this realistic and raw ending, in which I was actually unfamiliar with, that pulled on a heartstring. I would like to use more adjectives to describe how I felt but divulging that may nudge you to predict what happens. With that being said, I recommend I Still Believe if you are interested in seeing two people go on a scary roller coaster and stay committed to each other while trusting in God, despite the fear that they carry.
|Final Verdict:||Displays the unwavering faith of two people who endure an excruciating hardship. Audience admiration of characters' faith and love may extend past faith-based audiences.|