Movie review / ‘Overcomer’ (PG) ***

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Priscilla Shirer and Alex Kendrick in “Overcomer’.

“’Overcomer’s’ a well-crafted piece of cinema blessed with impressive performances and agreeable credibility,” writes reviewer DOUGAL MACDONALD

THE title of writer/director (and Baptist preacher) Alex Kendrick’s film doesn’t give much forewarning about its comfortable combination of narrative and message.

The plot follows Hannah (Aryn Wright-Thompson) who, after her mother’s death when she was a baby, has lived with her grandmother (Denise Armstrong) in a small midwest city. In her 15th year, Hannah has learned to conceal her feelings. She’s become a kleptomaniac. She’s not popular at school. Her best attribute is her running ability.

Alex Kendrick also plays John Harrison, history teacher at the local high school; who has coached the high school basketball team which has just lost the final match by a small margin. School attendances are down, funding is low. Principal Brooks (Priscilla C Shirer) asks him to coach the school’s distance-running team. Hannah is the only kid who turns up to try out.

In the local hospital, Thomas (Cameron Arnett) lies in a palliative care bed. John happens to pass his room and stops to talk. The pair strike up a friendship, made more valuable because Thomas, a type 2 diabetic who has lost his vision to the disease, is articulate and intelligent. 

In a rock-solid marriage, John’s teacher wife Amy (Shari Rigby), also manages the family home (they have two adolescent sons). Ms Rigby, a multiskilled dishy lady who comes to movies from a career in network TV, deserves to be more widely known.

The screenplay is clever enough to engage its audience as it follows Hannah’s negotiation of life’s vicissitudes and John’s preparation of her to compete in the championships next spring. The film gets well into that issue before it reveals its real purpose. It’s a commercial for participating in Christianity. The restrained delivery of the message stops short of demanding that the viewer sign up to join the flock.

So that’s the “Overcomer” package – a well-crafted piece of cinema blessed with impressive performances and agreeable credibility. 

At Capitol 6

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"Overcomer" (PG) ***
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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