Directed by: Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin
Premise: Based on true events. Aspiring Christian rock musician Jeremy Camp (K.J. Apa) falls in love with a young woman (Britt Robertson). When she develops cancer, the two of them commit to their faith and to each other.
What Works: I Still Believe has a pair of likable actors at its center. K.J Apa is cast as musician Jeremy Camp and Britt Robertson plays Melissa, his sickly love interest. A movie like this lives or dies upon whether the audience wants to see these two live happily ever after. Apa and Robertson have that appeal and Robertson especially deserves credit for making the movie work because she isn’t given much to do expect get sick. Robertson brings a lot to the role and to the movie by making this woman’s struggle with her illness a vivid part of the movie. I Still Believe is a polished production. Some titles in the faith-based genre are shoddy or corny but I Still Believe looks and sounds like a real movie. The musical sequences are generally well done with the performances blending naturally with the images.
What Doesn’t: One of the common faults of the religious movie genre is a tendency to portray faith in a superficial or simplistic way. That’s certainly the case in I Still Believe. The movie is primarily about Jeremy Camp and his experience watching the woman he loved struggle with cancer. Neither Jeremy nor Melissa’s faith ever wavers. Despite the awful things they are going through, neither one of them ever questions their devotion to God. The filmmakers shy away from anything really challenging like reconciling belief in an omnipotent and merciful being with the pain and suffering of cancer. Melissa’s—and by extension the filmmaker’s—rationalization for her cancer is especially troubling. I Still Believe frames Melissa’s disease as part of the almighty’s plan. As Jeremy watches his wife suffer through the disease, he is inspired to write songs about her faith and that leads him to create the music that ultimately launches his career as a singer-songwriter. The implications are crass, superficial, and even ghoulish. I Still Believe posits that God gave this woman cancer so that her husband could have a musical career. Even if his songs are in praise of the almighty, that is a troubling interpretation of these events.
DVD extras: Commentary track, featurettes, and deleted scenes.
Bottom Line: I Still Believe is generally well produced and actors K.J Apa and Britt Robertson are a likable on screen couple who manage to get viewers to care about their love story. But the film’s examination of faith is superficial at best.
Episode: #804 (June 14, 2020)