By Quint Randle
For FHE tonight we went and saw the movie “Just Let Go.” Because it starred Henry Ian Cusick (Lost, Scandal), I had wanted to see it in a first-run theater. But having been dissapointed on occasions by plenty of other faith-based films produced locally, I put off seeing the movie until it hit the second-run movie houses. Now having seen it, I would say maybe it isn’t quite worth $9 but it’s definitely better than the $4 second-run ticket price. Here is the official trailer along with a collection of reviews.
Sean Means of the Salt Lake Tribune says it makes a “better sermon than it does an engaging drama.” While I agree to some extent, I believe the film is also powerful in its plainness. Any faith-based story is going to be a balance between “message” and “movie,” so I tend to be a bit forgiving here. And this is where Cusick’s acting helps carry the film.
We unknowingly — until we got there — attended a screening that featured a Q&A after the film with the real life subject of the film Chris Williams, whose family was destroyed in 2007 by a 17-year-old drunk driver. This interview by Jana Reiss (scroll down after clicking through) reveals some of the same things we learned in our Q&A session. And maybe that’s why I’m bit more impressed by the film because I got to hear some of the real details from Williams.
Meanwhile, this positive review by Josh Terry of DeseretNews.com says the film”offers a powerful lesson on the nature of forgiveness.”
Like some other recent “LDS Films” that aren’t necessarily LDS films — they are “faith based” films that happened to be produced by Utahns — “Just Let Go” waters down the “LDS-ness” of the story/character in order to make it play universally to audiences everywhere. So it’s not such a niche film. And this is a key question for me. The generic Christianization of the story is a double-edge sword: On one hand it makes it more universal, but on the other hand, I feel it in some ways dulls the spiritual senses of the main character. He’s a Bishop — but as a generic preacher in the movie — he’s not quite as attune spiritually than I believe he might have been in real life.
That being said, my recommendation is to see the film or watch it when it comes out on DVD or via stream. It makes for a great family discussion about forgiveness. What did you think about the film? Leave your comment below.