Louder Than Words (DVD)
by Phil Boatwright

David Duchovny, Hope Davis, Timothy Hutton, Olivia Steele-Falconer, Adelaide Kane, Ben Rosenfield, Morgan Griffin. Arc Entertainment. Drama. Written by Benjamin Chapin. Directed by Anthony Fabian. On DVD, Sept 9, 2014. 95 minutes.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, this drama concerns a couple, John (David Duchovny) and Brenda (Hope Davis) who try to put their lives together after the tragic death of their young daughter, Maria (Olivia Steele-Falconer). As they deal with their numbing grief, they discover a way to honor their daughter’s wish for health and well-being for all children. With the help of their community, led by good friend Bruce (Timothy Hutton), they establish a children’s hospital called the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital… a state-of-the-art health facility that brings the whole family into the healing process.

PREVIEW REVIEW: In the film, the parents attempt to fill their loss with a project. And while this project is a noble one, still there is no representation in the production of the couple or their children seeking comfort through faith. So many people turn in every direction but to God. He’s never been a part of their lives, so in times of great sorrow and testing, they don’t know how to come to Him.

We are a mental, physical and spiritual being, yet few who make movies present a spiritual fulfillment via their work, and seldom suggest that we have God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and most likely, an army of angels to aid in our battles and trials.

Does a relationship with God ease the pain of the loss of a child? I lost my sister when she was three and I was ten. It was extremely painful and while we were comforted by knowing she was in Heaven, there was still a hole in our hearts and lives. Each day becomes a little easier, but that loss is always felt. But as time goes on, the comfort builds that someday we will be reunited. My dad is now up there and I can picture them hand in hand waiting for us.

Before I mention the positives of this film, allow me to tell you one miraculous moment after the loss of my sister, who was an angel sent to us, causing my parents to rededicate their lives to God and a stimulus for me to accept Jesus as my Savor the year of her birth.

When Ginny died, we were just moving from California to Illinois, due to dad’s work. The day we left, we drove through Van Nuys, a busy section of Los Angeles, even then. Stopped at a light, a white dove landed on the hood of the car. Ever see a bird land on the hood of your car while in a busy part of town? Was it a dove? Was it a white dove?

It was a sign, a comforting sign that brought us great peace, some sorrow, but mostly joy. Now, since I was only ten, I’ve asked my parents over the years if that really happened. They both confirmed it.

God exists and cares. He gave His only Son to die for our sins and as a sign of how much He cares.

May my little testimony in a film review be of some comfort to you if you’ve gone through a difficult time where you question God’s silence or existence.

Now, as to the film, I have to admit, I was caught up in the production values, the performances and the director’s willingness to hold on a scene, making sure we felt the emotions of those in that scene. The film also makes it clear that to deal with our own troubles and woes, we must look outside ourselves and feel for others also suffering.

That said, the following DVD alternatives suggest the need for and the true solution brought on by a spiritual examination.

PG-13 (I caught several minor expletives, some by a child, one use of the s-word and two misuses of Jesus’ name by the father – the only acknowledgement of Christ or Heavenly matters in the entire film; one grown daughter leaves home and lives with a man, we see the couple in bed, but no sexual situation; there is one brief sexual situation between the father and mother, but the camera discreetly pans away; the loss of a child takes an emotional toll on the family and may be unsuitable for children; each of the grown children smoke and there is some drinking throughout).

DVD Alternatives: The Lost and Found Family. Ester Hobbes (Ellen Bry) lives a high society life until her husband dies in an accident and she is left with nothing except a house in rural Georgia that is being used as a foster home. She moves in with the intention of selling the house, but from the unexpected kindness of the foster parents, she ends up helping to take care of the rebellious teenagers (Till and Luza) and three other young children who have issues of their own. Through her faith and prayers, she finds new meaning and a purpose for her life. The first 20 minutes or so were painful – not due to incompetence from the filmmakers, but from having to sit through yet again another dysfunctional group propelled by teen angst and adult financial woes. Don’t we all have enough money worries? Is that what we want to see in a movie? But, I stuck with it and hope you will as well. PG.

Places in the Heart. A literate script presents a determined widow (Sally Field) bent on saving her farm during the '30s Depression. Contains perhaps the greatest ending to a film this buff has ever seen. A repentant adulterer is finally forgiven, when his wife, moved by the pastor's sermon, takes her husband's hand during the service, signifying the restoring of a relationship through Christ's love. Just as we put our hankies away after that moving moment, another symbolic healing occurs. I won't give that one away. Trust me, it's powerful! Rated PG (some language, implied adulterous affair – but it furthers the story and it is not explicit).

Ponette. French with subtitles. Not rated (3 or 4 obscenities, but I caught no misuse of God's name; adult subject matter as the lost of a parent and subsequent unhappy searching for her mother may disturb children). After the death of her mother, a child attempts to understand where her mommy is, and believes if she can get close enough to God, He will send the mother back. Sometimes difficult to view, as we are frustrated that we cannot relieve her sadness, but it is an insightful look at the world of children, with an uplifting ending and powerful performances by the three lead children. There’s also a positive portrayal of a Christian woman as she relates the story of Christ to this little one. Four-year-old Victoire Thivisol won the 1996 Venice Film Festival Best Actress. How they got such a dynamic, moving performance out of this cherub is beyond me, but even if she never does another thing, this little girl has greatly contributed to the world of art and the spirit of man.