Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Like Dandelion Dust

A few months ago, I read a story about Christians who were making movies. It was talking about upcoming projects. The story highlighted the new movie, Courageous , which is currently in development. The film is produced by Alex and Stephen Kendrick from Sherwood Pictures. They are the same folks that brought us Facing the Giants and Fireproof. Their brand of filmmaking is primarily evangelistic in nature and is aimed at a mostly Christian audience.

The story talked about other filmmakers who were taking a different approach. Producers Kevin and Bobby Downes are veterans of the Christian movie business. But they have decided to pursue projects that have a broader and more universal appeal. I was intrigued about a new upcoming movie called Like Dandelion Dust. Could they make a film that is entertaining, uplifting, and honored God all at the same time? The DVD was released just a couple of weeks ago. Now I would have my answers.

Some people might claim that I am over-critical about Christian movies. Well, Kevin and Bobby Downes have given us an excellent and an inspiring film. There’s no other way to say it. This is one to see. The script is outstanding, and the acting is superb. I applaud the filmmakers for getting such top-notch talent as Academy Award Winners Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper. The story is based on a novel by New York Times Best Seller author, Karen Kingsbury.

Let’s face it. Most Christian movies feel like Christian movies. They don’t feel genuine or authentic and at times feel manipulative. However, Like Dandelion Dust is the real deal. It has a gritier feel. I would go as far to classify it as an art house movie. At its heart, it is a redemptive story with strong universal themes that we all can relate to.

The story is about an adoption that goes wrong and its consequences on both the biological and adoptive parents. Rip Porter, portrayed by Barry Pepper, has just been released from prison after serving seven years for spousal abuse. He has learned that his wife Wendy, played by Mira Sorvino, had his child while he was in prison. Wendy had forged his signature on the adoption papers, and Rip was not aware that he had a son.

Rip wants to put his life back together. After giving up drinking, he decides to sue for custody of his six-year old son. Rip and Wendy are working-class people with limited resources. The adoptive parents, Jack (Cole Hauser) and Molly Campbell (Kate Levering) are well-to-do and live the good life in Florida. They have provided a loving home for Joey (Maxwell Perry Coton). The tug-of-war starts with Joey being in the middle of all of the conflict and heart-wrenching decisions that will change everyone’s lives.

Throughout the entire film, God’s mercy and grace are ever present. There is an opportunity for all the characters to find the ability to forgive themselves and seek redemption. The message doesn’t overwhelm the film or have a forced agenda but allows it the freedom to find its own voice.

I certainly hope more Christians embrace this philosophy. These kind of films work. Surprisingly, it made only $352,000 during its theatrical release and played on only 60 screens. Like Dandelion Dust deserved a much larger release. Finally, here’s a Christian movie that can speak to a mainstream audience. I just don’t understand why they couldn’t have gotten a larger distribution deal.

The film certainly received a substantial amount of critical acclaim. It won the 2009 Audience Award for Best Drama at the Heartland Film Festival, plus 25 other awards in numerous other film festivals. The good news is Like Dandelion Dust is easily available on DVD. I picked it up at Wal-Mart for only ten bucks, a real deal. It’s also available for rent in Red Boxes. So, finding it will be no problem.

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