“Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot” review: Adoption… | WORLD
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Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot

MOVIE | Angel Studios film portrays authentic faith amid a small town’s adoption efforts


Angel Studios

<em>Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot</em>
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Rated PG-13 • Theaters

About 400,000 kids live in the foster care system in America—400,000 kids without a permanent home or family. Many couples prefer to adopt infants, so finding a place for foster children can be ­difficult. A new film from executive producer Letitia Wright (famous for her role in Black Panther) hopes to inspire audiences to meet the needs of these kids.

The movie, Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot, tells the true story of one community’s faithful efforts to provide families for children stuck in foster care. (After acquiring the rights to distribute the film, Angel Studios added the “Sound of Hope” bit to this unwieldy title to capitalize on its success with last summer’s surprise hit Sound of Freedom.)

The film takes place in the 1990s in Possum Trot, an unincorporated, predominantly African American community in east Texas. The Rev. W.C. Martin (Demetrius Grosse) leads a small church there, along with his wife Donna (Nika King). The couple thinks they have their hands full with two children, one of whom has special needs, but through the pain of personal tragedy, Donna hears God tell her to adopt more children. W.C. proves more hesitant, but his heart softens once he sees the need.

Following their pastor’s example, other church members start adopting children, and eventually, 22 families in Possum Trot will rescue 77 kids from foster care.

Much of the movie focuses on the Martins’ decision to adopt Terri (Diaana Babnicova), one of the toughest cases in the foster care system. The teenager has emotional problems and refuses to let anyone love her. The Martins know if they want their church’s newfound emphasis on adoption to continue, they can’t fail Terri, no matter the cost.

Possum Trot doesn’t sugarcoat the adoption process. Audiences witness financial and spiritual crises, while well-meaning individuals warn the Martins against pouring their lives out for these children. Terri’s storyline gives the film its PG-13 rating. Some of the themes aren’t suitable for small children, but the film avoids anything graphic. The language is fairly mild, despite some intense shouting and name-calling.

The film’s resolution feels predictable, but from a technical standpoint, Possum Trot has much to commend it. The writing, the acting, and the directing are all competently executed, and there’s a lived-in realism to the community of Possum Trot, with its piney woods, beat-up cars, and black accents. Part of that realism is an unapologetic depiction of Christian faith that manages to avoid sentimentality.

We see characters joyfully worship God at church. We see them discuss what they think God has planned for their lives. We hear God ask His people to care for widows and orphans, and we hear them cry out in pain, asking Him to provide the grace necessary to complete the task. Moreover, Possum Trot doesn’t shy away from mentioning the name of Jesus, reminding viewers that these good deeds aren’t motivated by faith in a generic God. In all this, the movie portrays authentic faith, but it never feels “preachy.” Other faith-based filmmakers should take note.

Possum Trot resembles the kind of drama that used to be a staple of American cinema before studios started pinning all their hopes on action-packed blockbusters. The characters struggle and grow in the midst of family turmoil, and the story is all the more affecting considering it’s based in fact.

The stakes might seem deceptively small in this movie that offers familial drama rather than earth-shattering special effects, but the opposite is true. Our world isn’t in danger of imminent destruction from interdimensional threats, but hundreds of thousands of children really are stuck in foster care. Possum Trot asks its viewer to consider that God’s grace is sufficient for the task.

Editor’s note: Listen to WORLD’s Effective Compassion podcast profile of the church that inspired Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot.


Collin Garbarino

Collin is WORLD’s arts and culture editor. He is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisiana State University and resides with his wife and four children in Sugar Land, Texas.

@collingarbarino

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