'October Baby': A film with a fresh perspective

OctoberBaby_Poster_sm

Late last week I had a chance to see a new film called October Baby, set to open in theaters March 23. The movie tells the story of a college student who belatedly learns that she was adopted -- and that she's a survivor of abortion.

Give them credit: That's a perspective that I believe has very rarely been shown on film before.

The filmmakers are, as you would guess, pro-life Christians, and the film openly reflects that. Which raises the question, how is it as a film? As many of you know, I strongly believe that a film needs to be a film, not a sermon. And I'll be honest with you: During the preview, when it was mentioned that the Erwin brothers, who made this movie, took some advice from the Kendrick brothers, who made Facing the Giants, I winced a little.

That said, October Baby is in many ways a strong film. Most of the acting is good, and some of it is very good. The characters are more real and likable than those in most other faith-based films I've seen, and not all of their storylines are tied up with a neat little bow. The story feels original and fresh, with both emotional impact (I teared up a couple of times) and humor.

The movie's main fault is a tendency to long, dialogue-heavy scenes that tend to blunt the point they're trying to make. This is a movie that would benefit from a little less talk and a lot more action, as the saying goes. Or as writing teachers like to put it, it needs to show, not tell.

Faith-based filmmaking has come a long way, and October Baby demonstrates that well. I can recommend it as a good, thought-provoking moviegoing experience, and I'd be happy to see it succeed. But at the same time, I would -- again -- remind those working in this genre that no matter how important your message is, your goal should always, always be storytelling, never preaching.

(Image copyright Provident Films)

Comments:

Good points, Jason.
It may be faith based films are getting better.

What genres can be used in a faith-based film? Inspirationals by definition. Romances would work as would comedies. Epics are hard to do in a faith based manner except for the traditional sword-and-sandals. And of course mysteries can be faith-based; all one has to do is start by having the detective's faith be part of his gimmick. A classic detective, especially in a "cozy" has a gimmick: Father Brown is a priest, Miss Marple is a mystery writer, Monk has OCD, Ironside has a wheelchair, Yashim from Jason Goodwin's series is an Ottoman Eunech, and so on. Using a detective's faith as part of his gimmick a writer can build on from there or leave it at that depending on his inclination and skill.

Also it might be well to separate productions in which faith is mainly part of the setting(blue bloods); these can be secular productions as well as religious. They are also flexible enough to fit almost any genre. Then too there are productions where faith is also part of the plot; Chariots, Fireproof, End of the Spear, and Soul Surfer all come to mind. These seem to be less flexible.




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