Filmmaker Lance Smith seems to understand this world and the characters that populate it. It might appeal to the same audience that made The Sound of Freedom a hit, but it also might challenge a casual, unsuspecting viewer who wouldn’t exactly expect some salty language for a movie that portends to aim its arrows at hearts in search of salvation.
Destinies converge when guilt and redemption are at stake.
A young black man named Reggie (Zachary S. Williams) is plagued by the guilt of killing a little girl in a car accident, and there is no consoling his conscience, even as often he tries by visiting her grave and then later to confess his grief to a gruff pastor (played by Wade Hunt Williams) of an inner city church, a guy who behaves like a life coach to as many hurting souls as he can in a season where it seems like almost everyone around him is in desperate need of redemption and forgiveness. Reggie is just one desperate soul in a sea of desperate souls; there is also another young man named Paul (Eric Diaz), an ex-solider drifting the streets, popping his prescription pills like tic tacs until his prescription runs out weeks too soon. Living rough for the first time in his life, Paul gets desperate and his edgy personality push him close to committing crimes – such as robbing a drug store for just one more refill – and he finds an unlikely ally in a mute vagabond who almost acts like his conscience when he most desperately needs one. There’s also a young mother named Ruth (Alexia Aldebol) who gets a surprise visit from her recently incarcerated ex, a dangerous psychopath who might very well kill her and her child if she doesn’t get immediate help from a source that surprises us. These lost souls, and others too, populate and drift around the church where the neighborhood pastor does his best to inspire hope and redemption when they so desperately need them in equal measure.
The faith-based genre is not a new concept, and has been around for decades, from searing, sincere, and goofy end-times rapture epics, and there’s even been some that take the down and dirty approach, from gang banger church classics like The Cross and the Switchblade, or more modern hits like The Sound of Freedom, which is technically “faith-based” because of its “God’s children are not for sale” approach to proselytizing its message against human trafficking. Frankly, if a movie uses the name of Jesus as a signal for characters to make a life choice for eternal salvation, it gets my vote as a “faith-based” movie, but pegging a genre where Christian faith is measured by how many times Biblical scripture is used on screen or how many times characters refer to God or Jesus can be off-putting if it’s branded incorrectly. Is Chariots of Fire a faith-based movie? Is Shadowlands? These are Academy Award-winning or nominated films that tell powerful stories about characters who happen to be Christian, and they have outstanding performances as a bonus.
A Time For Every Purpose wears its heart on its proverbial sleeve: that much is apparent almost from the get-go. It doesn’t worry about shying away from presenting a more-or-less realistic and gritty world where characters happen to say “fuck” or variations of that word in situations where real people might say it. It also doesn’t shy away from using the name of Jesus in ways that Hollywood is certainly afraid to use it. Hollywood’s understanding of Jesus has always been weak and confused and as a result His image or His name have been used in all sorts of movies to ward off demons or the devil, or to be trashed in profane, vain expletives, so it’s refreshing and welcome to my ears and my heart to see and hear that name spoken in reverence and in the proper way. Characters give their lives to Christ in A Time For Every Purpose, but in developments that are earned, even as we’re put through the wringer emotionally as the film’s characters’ lives and destinies teeter on the razor’s edge of complete ruin. It’s not exactly a surprising movie, but it’s done competently enough to recommend for someone looking for a melodrama with some grit. Filmmaker Lance Smith seems to understand this world and the characters that populate it. It might appeal to the same audience that made The Sound of Freedom a hit, but it also might challenge a casual, unsuspecting viewer who wouldn’t exactly expect some salty language for a movie that portends to aim its arrows at hearts in search of salvation.