“Unconditional” works

Samantha Crawford (Lynn Collins) is a children’s author. She and her husband live on a Tennessee ranch where she has her own horse and life good. But when her husband is killed Sam loses the will to live. She is relentless in trying to identify her husband’s killer to the point that the detective (Bruce McGill) doesn’t want to hear from her any longer.

Through two children that Sam meets and befriends she reunites with her best childhood friend, Joe (Michael Ealy).  Joe’s work is with inner city children. He did time in prison but with the help of his faith has come a long way. His goodness and faith open a world of opportunities for Sam and those two kids (who are quite good in the film).

Someone wrote that we should watch this movie because of what it does not have: sex, violence and bad language. I disagree. If you go to see this film in theaters go because it tells a story about grace.

“Unconditional” is low budget and while not a great film it is more competent and watchable than many of the Christian genre – even if you don’t happen to be religious.  The cast is good and Michael Elay (of the gorgeous blue eyes) is the flavor of the year (“Act Like a Man Think Like a Woman” and USA Network’s “Common Law.”) You may know Lynn Collins from the strangely watchable but overblown “John Carter.” First time feature director Brent McCorkle also wrote, edited and composed the music for the film. To his credit I didn’t feel like I was being hit over the head with its “message”; he seems to trust his audience more than other filmmakers of the genre “to get it.” I hope that his next project, whatever it is, may move miles beyond “Unconditional”.

There is a lot of dying in the story, though, more than the true story of the man that inspired it, Joe Bradford. Though ill himself, he and his wife have been working for years with underprivileged children in Nashville. See “Elijah’s Heart”  for more information.

Some themes in the movie are forgiveness, faith, despair, children, racism, urban poverty, community service, making a difference, animal therapy, and hope that people can change.

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