I like to read. I read a lot. I also like free, so I bug publishers to send me free books with the understanding that I’ll read the book and write what I think about it, and then instead of keeping my thoughts private, I’ll publish them to this blog, and maybe even post a review to Amazon or one of those other places.
I like to read. I don’t go to a lot of movies. But I do like free, and the other day my new friend Cas, the new digital publicist for Grace Hill Media (who I've reviewed for before), sent me an email with an interesting offer: THE IDENTICAL, a new movie with Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd and Blake Rayne, opens in theaters next week. City of Peace Films authorized Grace Hill Media to offer a pre-release, in home viewing to some of their bloggers. Remember I like free, so I clicked the link to a trailer and agreed to watch the film.
My son the college student is taking a film class; he could probably hit on all the points a movie review is supposed to cover, but like I said, I like to read.
First of all, I liked the movie. It has a strong Christian influence; there was no gratuitous sex or violence, no nudity, no profanity. A very welcome change from many movies and TV shows, even the news which frequently has to offer the disclaimer that what we are about to see may not be appropriate for all ages.(There's also no drug use, although some of the scenes are set in bars and there is GASP! dancing, drinking and cigarettes).
The story starts in a small town in the post depression era south. A poor man excited about the birth of his first child is less than thrilled when his wife proudly presents him with identical twins. He’s been wondering how to feed one child, what will he do with two? That evening finds him attending a tent revival, the traveling evangelist bares his soul and Mr. Hemsley has an idea.
The babies are separated on the day after they are born; a funeral is held to explain the absence of the second twin; and separated by miles and cultures the two boys grow up. Drexel Hemsley achieves fame and fortune as a singer/musician. The second son, Dexter, known now as Ryan Wade grows up as the son of a preacher man and his wife, a good boy who loves music, much to his daddy’s chagrin. As the boys grow into men, they both gravitate to the same musical genre. Preacher daddy finally has enough and sends his son into the army, hoping that he will get over the nonsense, and accept the calling that the Lord must have on his life. It doesn't quite work, but that’s part of the story.
Blake Rayne who plays both of the identical twins looks (and even sounds a little) like Elvis Presley. Ryan Wade grows up ‘a little bit Baptist, a little bit rock and roll’.(They never mention Baptist, but I like the way it sounds) I was confused for the first half of the movie. Was it supposed to be a semi-biographical film about Elvis? But I finally came to the conclusion that this really wasn't about Elvis as much as it was about an entire era, and the people that made it what it was.
But on a much deeper level it touches on so many more themes. Making painful decisions, trying to live a life that someone else has decided is yours, becoming the man that God wants you to be as opposed to the man that someone else thinks God wants you to be.(By the way I'm a pastor, am I trying to force my son into a call that's mine and not his?)
It’s a film about life and death, truth and lies, about anger and forgiveness. It’s a film about redemption. I suppose there is even a case to be made for one or both sides in the nature vs. nurture argument.
If you prefer movies with car chases, gun fights and rawness, you probably won’t list The Identical as one of your all time favorites, but you might like the music. And you may even get a hint of God's grace as He deals with people who don’t always feel like they’re in the right place.
If you’re tired of blood and gore and smut, you’ll be glad you found a movie you can watch with your mother without being embarrassed. A little hokey at times, but more frequently than not the sentimentality worked to the film's advantage. There were a few too many Elvis connections for my liking, but the movie is inspirational, and yes I liked the music.
Watch a trailer here
THE IDENTICAL opens in theaters nationwide on Sept 5. A welcome change of pace, as a nice story is nicely told.