By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-/C+

The faith-based drama, “I Still Believe” is directed by the Erwin Brothers, Andrew and Jon, the filmmaking team behind their successful “I Can Only Imagine” (2018). “I Still Believe” is based on the real events in Contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp’s life. He was inspired to write a Christian/Gospel song after the passing of his first wife, Melissa, and it was released in 2003. The Grammy-nominated Christian singer-songwriter also wrote the book by the same name and the filmmakers adapted it for the big screen. Jeremy (KJ Apa, “Riverdale”) is from Indiana where he lived with his supportive parents (performed by Gary Sinise and Shania Twain), along with his developmentally challenged younger brother Josh (Reuben Dodd). Early in the film, he leaves home (with his guitar) to attend a Christian college in Southern California and he soon meets Jean-Luc (Nathan Parsons, Roswell), the lead singer of a successful Christian rock band, who is there for a campus concert. Jean – Luc invites him to help during their campus concert and that is where he meets Melissa (Britt Robertson, “A Dog’s Purpose”) and love blossoms instantly for him.

The screenplay by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn is about as predictable as can be anticipated from this college – age romance that turns intensely dramatic when Melissa’s medical condition is mentioned, and she is hospitalized. The strong bond between Melissa and Jean – Luc is highlighted quite a bit early in the film and then just suddenly seems downplayed in this script. I am very surprised as to how little emotion is written for Jean-Luc when he finds out about the couple’s romance. The writers inform viewers of Melissa’s cancer and then Jeremy is proposing marriage. They have a simple ceremony and yet with all their faith and prayers offered by friends and family, her remission is short-lived.

For those of us not familiar with the song/book, there are issues of going through difficult periods of time maintaining faith. One of my very favorite scenes is when Jeremy is grieving and is with his father. Sinise delivers a beautiful performance, and that is the one that almost had some tears flow.

There is no doubt that actors Apa and Robertson have a fabulous on – screen chemistry that will make younger viewers swoon. Those familiar with the Camp story will very likely enjoy the big – screen version of these real life events, but it does make a fine matinee for anyone who is willing to learn more about this romance and how he has moved forward in his musical and personal life.

Other cast members include: Melissa Roxburgh, Abigail Cowen, Hali Everette                                

Rated PG, 116 minutes and is in theaters March 13th 2020.

Source: Lionsgate

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