We take a look at Do You Believe, the new hit film from the makers of bestselling God's Not Dead movie series.
The most ambitious Christian release for years, Do You Believe is a film that weaves together stories of 12 differing individuals. With the paths of broken men and women repeatedly running into one another, you’d be forgiven for thinking the film’s central concern was the cross of each character’s path, rather than the biblical Cross.
This interweaved story format is a popular one. Films like Crash, 21 Grams, Magnolia, Babel, and Cloud Atlas (as well as recent holiday-themed comedies such as New Year’s Eve) have all explored the human connections that bring meaning to life. So, whenever you watch such a film, the central question is always:
What connects everyone?
Do You Believe follows the lives of 12 people who, in many ways, find their lives challenged and changed by the Cross. A homeless mother and daughter, a pastor faced with stale faith, an ex-soldier struggling with PTSD. Each of the film’s stories are powerful parables on the ways meaning and hope are sought. In casting such a wide net, there is as much room for discussion as there are ways for viewers to connect with strands of the movie. Everyone gets a character to relate to.
Jon Gunn, the film’s director, is deft in the handling of such a complex structure. By allowing different strands to naturally flow into each other with a single shot, he gives Do You Believe a sense of flow that is a great credit to the film. At one point, as a sermon and a gang-hit gone wrong are intercut with an increasing speed until the two collide, leaving a conscience stricken gang member hiding from the police mid-sermon.
What hangs most over the film is choice. Each individual is presented with the possibility of either allowing themselves to remain plagued by their own troubles, or to make a change. To stand up and face the cross. More often than not, these stakes are all-or-nothing as the film leaves no room for grey areas. When a paramedic who evangelises to a dying man, he soon finds himself at the centre of a legal troubles which pit his work and his faith in opposite corners. Fans of God’s Not Dead (both 1 and 2) will find themselves on home turf with this strand, as persecution-cinema has recently grown to become mainstay of American faith-flicks.
In watching Do You Believe, it is hard to shake the feeling that this films belongs anywhere other than a Church. Not only in the presence of small wooden crosses that populate the film (as well as two, not so small ones), but in the voice and message of the film itself. At no point, though, did I feel this was snuck in. From the title to the poster, it’s no great secret that Do You Believe? exists to be shown in churches. The film is not so much a challenge to believe as it is a challenge to act on that belief, and then see the effect of those actions. No one in Do You Believe spontaneously gets up and decides “I believe in God today!”. Rather, it is the human actions compelled by genuine faith that spark belief. From the simple giving of a wooden cross, to acts of kindness to those in need, the film shows that real faith involves broken people reaching out to other broken people, no matter the cost.
Do You Believe is avaliable to order today!
July 25th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon