Christian films have earned their reputation over the years. Despite the efforts of the McKenzie Brothers and Mel Gibson, the majority of these productions tend to be synonymous with weak screenplays, volunteer actors from the local church and the inevitable Gospel sermon at the conclusion that feels tacked on as justification for watching the film. These movies have become a soft target for critics to dismiss and marginalise as substandard entertainment. Still, we cannot forget that there is a massive market for these stories. We need to remember that some of these films do manage to rise above the fray to appeal to a larger audience every once in a while. If anything, this genre does get a whole new audience to engage with the film industry.
About Hope tries to offer something unique within this genre, a Christian romance. One that is on the scale of a Hallmark adventure that is wrapped up with enough of the Bible to appeal to the most skeptical of Baptists. This latest affair of the heart introduces the photographer, Thomas McKenzie (Justin Ray), as a man with a personal mission to find the perfect woman. A life journey that has led him to develop a list to help him in weeding out all of the poor choices that his mother tries to set him up with over the years. Thomas even has taken time to paint a portrait of what this perfection would look like in his mind’s eye.
Many women have walked into his world throughout his career and life, but few have captured his attention, like Hope Sanchez (Christine Juarbe). She is an up-and-coming publisher, a single mum and one of Thomas’ clients. This young publisher does not tick all of the boxes of his list, but there is something special about their relationship. Then one day, Thomas meets Hope’s newest author at a photography shoot. Desiree Sinclair (Claire Bermingham) looks just like the woman he has painted in his studio. As the best-selling author takes an interest in the photographer, everything gets twisted into a potentially bizarre, love triangle.
David D. Dietrich manages to direct a film that will appeal to all who have come to enjoy this cinematic classification. There is an attempt to make it cutting edge with the inclusion of certain vices. Yet, the story does manage to stay squarely in the sanitised world that the target audience will enjoy. All the while adding a bit of romance, comedy and drama for those looking for a safe option during date night. Also adding in enough references to past rom-com classics to appeal to the quietly devoted fan of romance on the other side of the spectrum.
Packaged within this romantic endeavour is a life lesson for the central character that can only be answered through the Bible and prayer. An element that may make some eyes roll, but it does offer an alternative to the humanistic and sexual options that usually come in most romantic comedies. This means that many of the other trappings associated with these films are included. Still, for those looking for this type of entertainment choice, this will not be an issue. About Hope is made for the fans of Christian films while adding a bit of romance into the mix for a bit of righteous amore.
REEL DIALOGUE: Is the God of the Bible romantic?
When it comes to romance, the God of the Bible does not usually come to mind as a purveyor of love. Most people inside and outside the Christian faith may think that discovering real romance can only occur outside the Bible. It is an unfortunate misconception because as the Creator and God of love, it can be said that romance was his idea, too.
Romance: love, esp romantic love idealised for its purity or beauty
From the original creation account to the wisdom literature of the Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Solomon, the word pictures and phrases make for an atmosphere for romance. Like any relationship, God does set parameters for this love connection, but within this playground, the Creator of romance allows for a beautiful atmosphere for love.