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Emotional under-load

I Still Believe doesn’t give its main characters a wide (and quiet) enough range

KJ Apa as Jeremy Camp and Britt Robertson as Melissa Henning in I Still Believe Michael Kubeisy

Emotional under-load
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The Erwin Brothers are back with their first new film after their surprise 2018 hit, I Can Only Imagine. That movie made more than $85 million to become the fourth highest-grossing biopic of all time, behind Bohemian Rhapsody, Straight Outta Compton, and Walk the Line.

The Erwins’ feat was all the more impressive when you consider that those A-List movies not only had the advantage of big studio marketing, they also all received Oscar nominations.

While it follows a similar pattern of telling the true story behind a popular Christian song, I Still Believe isn’t likely to reach I Can Only Imagine’s heights.

Based on the romance between contemporary Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa, it features a likable cast that includes Gary Sinise and Shania Twain, some cute rom-com moments, and, of course, plenty of good music.

Unfortunately, as star-crossed lovers facing down cancer, leads Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) and KJ Apa (Riverdale) are given only two speeds to work with: saintly acceptance of God’s will and melodramatic raging against the dying of the light. Think laying prostrate with grief on the hospital room floor or anger-sprinting through the rain—things people in movies do all the time, but people in real life, hardly ever.

One of the best achievements of the similarly themed documentary about Kara Tippetts was that it allowed her to express her emotions quietly. Like her bitterness when she saw healthy moms with their kids. Or her fear when she realized her husband was talking about her in the past tense. We don’t see anything so raw in I Still Believe.

That said, I Still Believe succeeds when it bucks the Christian movie trend of suggesting only miracles and victories make for good stories. The Erwins are careful to show that God is faithful even when He says “no.” In a prosperity gospel culture, that’s a theme worthy of any filmmaker.

Megan Basham

Megan is a former film and television editor for WORLD and co-host for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman’s Guide to Having It All. Megan resides with her husband, Brian Basham, and their two daughters in Charlotte, N.C.



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