Movie Review: UnconditionalQuick Plot Summary: A woman still grieving the loss of her murdered husband, finds hope again in working with her childhood friend helping underpriviledged kids. Inspired by the true story of "Papa Joe" Bradford.
Suggested Ages: 13+
This is a great movie that is gripping on multiple levels. It's one of those "kind of hard to describe" films and the plot summary above does NOT give adequate justice to what this film is. In fact, before watching this movie I wasn't altogether sure that it sounded like something I'd want to see. But it was. :) The plot may be a bit hard to really describe, but what I can say is that you will almost guaranteed walk away from this movie feeling inspired, encouraged, and hopeful.
It is loosely based on / inspired by the true real life story of "Papa Joe" Bradford, who ministers to low-income children in Tennessee, but this film is NOT a biography. In fact, the film's central-most character isn't even him, but rather a woman who was his childhood friend and "providentially" gets reunited with him.
This is a fairly well-made, well-acted film that is a bit "grittier" than the average Christian film tends to be. It's rated PG-13 mostly because of some violence and portrayal of inner-city life realities. I didn't notice any bad language and there's no sexual content. And even the violence is relatively tame all things considered (there also isn't that much of it). But due to the violence and some of the more mature themes, I agree with the rating and recommend avoiding showing to those under age 13.
Key themes in the movie include: moving on from your past - including moving forward out of deep grief, forgiveness, importance of fathers, truly making a difference by sharing love unconditionally, and that God is always with us and His love is constant.
One of the things I most love about this movie is that it avoided a common trap that WAY too many other Christian films have fallen into - that is taking the evil we see in our world and somehow attributing those things to God (or otherwise raising questions about God's goodness). There's hard realities shown in this movie, for sure, but it mostly (there's one relatively minor exception) keeps God in a positive light in that He is always with us and His love is constant towards us even in the hard things. It doesn't fall into the trap of feeling like it needs to try to explain in 3-word sound-bytes why there's evil in this world, which is something I greatly appreciate after having seen other Christian movies raise serious questions of God's goodness and then not adequately resolving those questions.
Reviewed by Christopher Long,