Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fireproof

Fireproof was the surprise Cinderella story of the year. It managed to not totally tank with every reviewer and was actually quite successful financially. These are not minor feats for an independent Christian film.

So I finally decided to watch it. I had heard from more than one person that it was good. But it wasn't. Well not really. I went into the experience with high hopes. I really wanted to like it. But my opinions of Kirk Cameron's career (Growing Pains notwithstanding) have been extremely jaded ever since Left Behind. But I wanted to give it a chance. As a newlywed who has been watching The Sopranos (a gangster drama with a good deal of infidelity) for the last few months I thought this might be a breath of fresh air. It was and it wasn't.

Let's break it down simply. The biggest problem with this film is its script. The script is weak. It is simplistic and the dialogue "does not ring true." It just sounds phony. Which is not helped by the second problem. The acting was weak. There were moments of intense sincerity that actually brought my wife and myself briefly to tears. But for the most part Cameron is extremely unconvincing, and the supporting cast is all about the same. I mean it isn't the worst acting I've ever seen but it is weak. I was involved in High School plays that were deserving of Academy Award nominations when compared to this film.

But the film has a very strong theme. The theme is basically that a husband needs to be like Christ in order for his marriage to work. It also makes a bold statement concerning pornography which hit home with me and hopefully with many men who experience temptations and failure in this area. 

There were two very good scenes. One was a great exercise in pure cinema. As the father is trying to help his son come to grips with what he needs to do in order to win back his wife he circles around him to a cross. The whole film has been building to this moment and it is pulled off gracefully. The cross is the symbol of self sacrifice and the changing power of faith which is the point of the whole film: dying for your spouse. 

I won't go into the second scene as not to ruin it for those who have not yet seen the film, but I'm sure you'll know it when it comes. 

It is a sincere film. The filmmakers really care about the story they are trying to tell and it is only through this sincerity that the film works at all. And tt does work if only briefly.

I have to say in conclusion that I think the film was only okay. I'm very disappointed that I could not give this film higher praise. As a Christian who has aspirations in the realm of film criticism and description I wish the job of finding the pro social and truly beautiful content of films could always be as easy as this film was but unfortunately this film really fails on too many levels to receive much of a positive endorsement.  

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