Disclosure: This review contains affiliate links to a product which I received in exchange for review.
All opinions are my own.
You know a film is going to be emotional when it opens to someone's trailer home burning down...to a soundtrack not of suspense or sorrow, but of a man singing old-fashioned gospel music.
"God's got a plan for you," he croons while people's faces drop as they arrive home to find they no longer have one.
It's a hard pill to swallow, but it's something I appreciate about fan-funded movie Redemption of the Commons (really, there was a kickstarter!): it shares Christian messages in an honest fashion. Life isn't perfect. It never will be. But God does, in fact, have a plan for your life.
The film synopsis centers on Victor Clay in a classic "prodigal child reluctantly returns home and finds peace in the process" story with a faith-based twist. The prodigal story is highlighted a notch with an embittered older brother. Clay is joined by several other supporting characters in a story that is filmed in the style of an ensemble piece.
The audience first meets Clay, who we realize is homeless and struggling. Upon arriving home, there's no pity or easy solutions: the family and friends he left behind in "The Commons," their trailer park homes, face similar struggles as they fight to make ends meet and handle other personal trials.
Like many Christian films, production can feel choppy at times. There's lots of foreshadowing in the first half that was difficult to pick up on, and I feel like more emphasis were placed on problem and solution with less on the journey between. Despite that, we end up with a feel-good piece capable of leaving smiles and perhaps a few watery eyes.
Unlike many Christian films, the cheese factor is kept at a minimum and no room is made for cliches: no David and Goliath setup, no excessive preachiness, and most importantly to me, no prosperity gospel.
The whole point of the film is that God has a plan for our lives. Let me repeat that. God has a plan for us. Not the other way around. I bet it would have nicely fit into the character's plans if they all inherited millions and no longer faced struggles of any kind. There is one inheritance in this film, and, spoiler alert, it's probably not what they planned.
Commons could have taken the easy road in this film. They could have wiped everyone's debt and placed them in McMansions by the film's end. Thankfully, they didn't. My review would be over and I would tell you not to waste your time watching. Thankfully, wealth isn't only material and while that isn't a popular message, Commons delivers it and I respect that.
I won't spoil the story, but I will say it's worth watching; it is relevant today regardless of one's faith or lack thereof. Commons wasn't produced to convert, but to encourage. With or without faith, we all have questions and times of discouragement. We all have plans that may or may not be fulfilled as we expected. We all need encouragement sometimes.
Thanks to The Blythe Daniel Agency, I have a copy of Redemption of the Commons on DVD to give away. Enter below!