Sometimes you get a great feeling about something you're going to watch. From the way the opening credits of "Christine's Wager" flashed onscreen to the music I heard as the intro began - and the initial introduction to the characters of the movie took place, I instantly felt like I was going to not only be on solid ground - but in for something relevant. I dig the onscreen layover effects showing us what Christine is going through with her education, and I loved how the scenes with her text messages give us an excellent insight into who she is. Not only through what she chooses to type in response but, more often than not, what she chooses not to send instead. It's a really clever way of letting us in on how she thinks and acts, revealing what's truly important to Christine and what's not. They're literally spelling it out for us, but it's a great way to understand what it's like inside her head. As we dive further into the plot and the relationship between Christine and her mom, we learn about how different they are beyond the divide in the text messages and see the generational gap that exists to separate the more progressive daughter from her old-school mother. Growing up is never an easy thing. There are only so many more days before she graduates, and no matter how difficult you think Christine's relationship is with her mom, wait until you meet her dad.
Father Matthew was a great character to have in here – I last saw Mike Markoff in another family drama I reviewed last year called "When Jack Came Back," and he's a reliable actor for sure. He steals many scenes in this film through how he portrays this newly ordained pastor. I'm not saying Christine's lead isn't stellar, to say the least; she's very expressive in how she acts and hits all the right marks. One hundred percent. Now, despite the many complications her father, William, brings to just about every scene in the storyline, he is undoubtedly a great addition to the film as the character provides crucial context to the entire plotline through flashbacks. All this becomes important as the film shifts perspectives between its characters and provides its faith-based story at the heart of it all. You've got the skeptical father, the devout mother, the questioning daughter, and the fun-loving priest in Father Matthew – all people that we feel like we've met somewhere along the way through our own journey in life. In particular, Christine's volunteer hours spent looking after a young child named Logan, that is dying, are brilliantly effective and endearing and definitely provided some of my favorite moments in this movie. As far as locations go, the warm scenes filmed within the church and the tour provided by Father Matthew look absolutely stunning, and the beauty you see there creates a stark contrast to the coldness you see in the modern-day hospital rooms. Shots of the surrounding city are fantastic to see as well, captured perfectly with the sunrise in the background, or shown to us with the hustle and bustle of the day flying by through time-lapse footage.
"I was convinced there was one thing that separated a happy person from a miserable person…purpose." While I wasn't personally swayed by what becomes an attempt to show religious conversion taking place on multiple levels through various means, I couldn't agree more with the quotation above. The most incredible people I know are driven by purpose and passion, and I truly believe that these are the keys to a life worth living. As a person raised within a faith-based environment, the topic of religion never scares me away, and I feel I've got a more grounded approach to how it's viewed by having a genuine understanding and admiration of religion - without being attached to it. So in terms of seeing a film like "Christine's Wager" attempt to show how true faith can be essential to who we are and what we do – to provide that purpose the above quote implies, I get where it's coming from. Where I think "Christine's Wager" maybe goes a bit too far for the questioning minds out there would be seeing Christine's father go from being a total skeptic to becoming completely converted. To the point where he feels like the theory of evolution itself is explained through religious text, which has long been one of its direct obstacles for centuries. The quick explanation we receive, in addition to the excitement it attempts to generate at that moment, is a bit on the contrived side of the argument - if you're asking me personally. To me, it still feels riddled with holes. I did, however, appreciate that this film did not attempt to mask or hide what its message was aiming for or the agenda behind the scenes. I'm less sure about moments that we see, like medical miracles being tied to religion. If I was, personally, at all close to being offended, as the child of divorce and a proud Generation X kid, it was mainly through scenes that imply a broken family is able to be repaired simply by discovering a devout path.
"Christine's Wager" is a film created for the faith-based crowd more so than it would be for the rest of us out there. Honestly? That's more than okay with me – I wasn't scared to dive into the film, and you shouldn't be either - no matter your religious disposition. We should always take every opportunity to understand different ways of thinking and our unique perspectives. "Christine's Wager" is well-conceived and isn't devious in its pursuit to show how religion can solve not just some - but perhaps a good number of problems out there. Whether you choose to believe that is possible is probably another matter altogether. I don't think that this film is going to convince many people outside of the faith-based community, but I do admire the sweetness and heart found at the core of it all - and feel like the mission it was on was admirable. "Christine's Wager" might not necessarily be for everyone out there - but it easily deserves a solid three stars for being completely true to its vision. And for executing it professionally, passionately, and with purpose. Anyone reading this should also take into consideration - that a more devout person than myself will probably rate this film a little higher than me. However, at the end of the day, pretty much anyone should enjoy this title.