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“Do You Believe?” A Crowd Pleaser with Depth

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Features Sean Astin, Mira Sorvino and an all-star cast

Do You Believe? is the latest release from Pure Flix Entertainment: the same folks who gave us last year’s surprise hit, God’s Not Dead. Just like that film, Do You Believe?, while almost guaranteed to get the cold shoulder from mainstream critics, it should prove to be a crowd pleaser. This is a film intended primarily for Christian audiences, especially those with evangelical leanings. It speaks our language, addresses our concerns, but challenges our merely cultural assumptions as well.

The movie opens by quoting James 2:17, which famously warns Christians that faith without works is a dead faith. Probably not the most beloved verse by Pure Flix’s predominantly Protestant fan base, but it does perfectly set the tone for the story that follows.

Or perhaps “stories” would be a better description. Modelled on ensemble films like Short Cuts and 2005 Best Picture winner Crash, Do You Believe? iweaves the tales of 12 disparate individuals whose lives intersect at various points as they undergo crises of faith.

Everything is set in motion by a wandering street preacher who challenges a local pastor to consider the true meaning of the cross of Christ. Is he truly prepared to accept the burden that comes with bearing that cross? Or, as it’s put in the movie’s shorthand, does he really believe in the cross? It’s a question that, through various circumstances, comes to be asked of each of the characters. Some answer it well, some don’t.  Nobody’s story ends without being given the opportunity to learn the cross’s demands.

The ensemble that makes up the cast includes a surprising number of recognizable names. TV royalty Cybill Shepherd and Lee Majors play an elderly couple still grieving the loss of their daughter; Oscar winner Mira Sorvino is a homeless mother trying to take care of her own little girl; and Lord of the Ring’s Sean Astin portrays a doctor doggedly determined to remain an atheist. Brian Bosworth, Delroy Lindo, Madison Pettis, and other familiar faces are thrown into the mix as well. In comparison to most Christian films, it’s an all-star cast.

Jon Gunn’s direction is solid, and really comes to life during the film’s action scenes. The writing is highly professional and manages to underline the points being made without preaching too much.

Faith-based films have come a long way over the past few years. No longer are they homemade productions shown in church basements. At present, films like Do You Believe? are popular movies that deliver exactly what fans of the genre want. True, none of the current crop is ever going to make it onto the Vatican’s list of great religious films alongside A Man for All Seasons and Babette’s Feast, but they still entertain and enliven the audiences they were made for.

For Catholics and Protestants alike—and anyone with an open mind—Do You Believe? will be a refreshing encounter with the heart of the faith.

In a world he didn’t create, in a time he didn’t choose, one man looks for signs of God in the world by… watching movies. When he’s not reviewing new releases for Aleteia, David Ives  spends his time exploring the intersection of low-budget/cult cinema and Catholicism at  The B-Movie Catechism.

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