Nat Brehmer, Lance Smith
All right, folks - it looks like we've got one of those intersecting storylines here. Think along the lines of a film like "Crash," but with more of a faith-based influence. Personally, I never shy away from anything with a religious base, even though I'm not much of a religious person myself. It's always been an interesting topic for me, and you don't need to be a true believer to feel that way. When it comes to "A Time For Every Purpose," you can spot the elements of faith onscreen pretty darn quickly, whether it's the scenes that revolve around Pastor Clark or otherwise. No judgments here, y'all – I'm simply stating that even in the scenes that aren't directly tied to religion, you can visibly see its influence, perspective, and point of view. As "A Time For Every Purpose" begins, you can't help but wonder if, by the end of this film, all the main characters are going to have found God. Hmmm.
You've got Paul (Eric Diaz), the struggling veteran who has found himself homeless. You've got Guy (Joseph O'Connor), who communicates differently and graciously takes Paul under his wing despite the dire circumstances they're both up against. You've got characters like Reggie (Zachary S. Williams), the young kid that's basically breaking apart right in front of us, and the stoic presence of Pastor Clark (Wade Hunt Williams) doing his level best to save him without pushing him away. Ruth (Alexia Aldebol) seems like she's recovering from some serious trouble in her life, aka Doug (Will Hagaman). It's a roster filled with well-meaning characters that seem to be hanging on by a thread. We cross through sections of each of their lives in various states of disarray. Paul & Guy's rough encounter with law enforcement… Reggie's hospitalization, Ruth's visit from Douglas, the menace – tough scenes, all-around. It's always darkest before dawn, as they say, and we can only hope that's the real truth as we watch these characters go through a harrowing degree of pain and personal turmoil that feels like it's beyond repair. You've felt like that at times, too, haven't you? That's the thing about what you'll see in this film – their story could be YOUR story or someone that you know of, love, or care about. What separates the fortunate from the unfortunate might only be a paycheck, a random tragedy, or an unexpected trauma we never saw coming – we're not all lucky enough to recover from these things.
You'll find some great aspects to connect to. Wade Hunt Williams delivers a mix of strong confidence and humbled fragility at the same time; he's very impressive as Pastor Clark. The scenes he shares with Ruth are made even more real by the bright, imploring eyes of Alexia Aldebol and her quest for recovery. Eric Diaz does a solid job as Paul, as does Zachary S. Williams as Reggie, too. Joseph O'Connor arguably could have gotten more screen time – I felt like he's one of this film's most essential characters in his role as Guy, but we never really get to spend quite enough time with him in "A Time For Every Purpose." Essex O'Brien also does an exceptional job with fairly limited screen time as Phil The Pharmacist.
If I had any real qualms with the writing or how this story is presented to us, it would boil down to the fact that despite all the personal chaos we see each of these characters going through, the feeling that everything is somehow going to be okay for them all by the end never really goes away from the moment this starts. "A Time For Every Purpose" does serve as a great reminder that every single person out there in this world is struggling with something, and maybe there's truly a different answer to every different question. Could God really have ALL the answers? Is that still where this plotline is funneling? My point is that the potential suspense isn't established as much as it's intended to because we can see that we're heading towards a happy ending from the very first moments of this film, even with all the terrible situations each character is going through. The effect of that is that we don't really have the opportunity for the suspension of disbelief, which is a crucial element to the success of any story like this. We need to believe that the dangers each character is facing are real, and while they all do a decent job individually at representing the pain, confusion, and despair, the tone of "A Time For Every Purpose" never shakes that constant feeling that eventually, we're going to get to sunshine & rainbows.
When you look at the fear in Reggie's eyes and hear his story, it's the most horrifying detail you'll find in any of the stories you witness throughout "A Time For Every Purpose." Credit where credit is due, that's the moment where you start to believe that Director Lance Smith, who co-wrote "A Time For Every Purpose" along with Nat Brehmer, might have put an obstacle in between at least one character that can't possibly be resolved. It's as close as we get. I was raised in a faith-based situation myself – and I know the last thing that the community would ever give up on is the message at the core of it all. So, again, my suspension of disbelief still hasn't been moved. To see Reggie end up making a new friend was the confirmation I had assumed was coming – "A Time For Every Purpose" is going to head exactly where I assumed that it would from the first few minutes that I started watching. You could also cite how Doug's story finishes up - and whether or not you feel like a person who has absolutely nothing left to lose would make the choices that he makes… I'm not so sure that they would. Even Pastor Clark seems to be shocked by how that storyline wraps up, and I can't say that I blame him.
Anyhow. You'll have to watch to find out whether or not I was right all along – I don't want to spoil it for you. The main strengths I'm seeing are largely in the acting – there are some genuinely great characters in this story, and the cast does a solid job of making each one real to us. The way that it's shot is also done well – I really liked how a lot of this was filmed, what's shown to us, and how the camera is used for close-up shots – a lot of what we see in "A Time For Every Purpose" feels like we're right there with the characters as they go through their problems onscreen. Ruth says it best – and it's advice that I'd take to heart if I was Brehmer & Smith – "you can't expect all of us broken types to be fixed the same." If that's truly the case, I'm not sure why it would be that we feel like we know where this story is going from the very beginning & what the outcome for each character is likely to be. Lucas (Matthew McCarron) manages to shake things up a little towards the end, but not quite enough for us to shake the feeling that everything is going to work out in the end, and God will have the answers.
All that being said, "A Time For Every Purpose" plays cohesively, has great characters to lean on, and has a clear purpose for its existence. A critic has to keep in mind that not everyone out there watches as many movies as we do, so maybe the intended suspense could be more real to other viewers as well; that's totally possible. Aside from a few spots here and there where storylines wrap up a little too easily, "A Time For Every Purpose" essentially achieves the faith-based objectives that it set out to, and I respect that. It's a completely watchable film that has a deeper meaning to it that could probably have been realized a bit more than it is, but it gets close. "A Time For Every Purpose" gets three stars out of five from me. It's a solid film.