REVIEW: “God Bless the Broken Road” trods well worn path of idealistic storytelling

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Movie poster for "God Bless the Broken Road." Image courtesy of imdb.com

From the director of “God’s Not Dead”, “God Bless the Broken Road” tries a new approach by adding a relatively diverse cast and racecars to a familiar Christian movie plot.

However, the plot ultimately falls into a well-worn path of anecdotal idealism due to poor writing and an unrealistic resolution.

Upbeat church choir leader Amber Hill is left spiritually and financially devastated after her husband is killed on duty in Afghanistan.

Two years later, Amber fights to raise her daughter and keep her home, but is unable to make mortgage payments despite working constantly at the small town’s clichéd diner.

Every conflict in this movie can be traced back to Amber’s status as an underpaid and overworked single mom. This causes constant friction with her mother-in-law and daughter.

Recognizing Amber’s struggle, many friends from church provided basic help with her home, food, and other basic necessities.

While a faith-based community can be beneficial for many people, another option would be to encourage Amber to seek counseling from a therapist or psychiatrist based upon her level of emotional trauma. Regrettably this kind of support is never shown, or even alluded to.

It’s frankly outrageous that Amber was even in this situation in the first place, suffering mentally due to lack of healthcare after her husband sacrificed his life in combat.

Unfortunately, this is probably the most realistic part of the movie, since Amber likely wouldn’t have been able to afford the luxury of therapeutic help solely by waitressing at a diner in a small town. But hey, as long as you have faith, who needs therapy?

*Spoiler Alert*

Though it’s not really a spoiler considering it follows the same plot as essentially every Christian movie, after Amber’s friends pray for her and she has a breakdown in front of her church, she is miraculously healed of all her anger and pain at the loss of her husband.

She proceeds to effortlessly bridge the emotional gap with her daughter and mother-in-law, all during about the last ten minutes of the movie.

After all that Amber endured emotionally in the first half of the movie it seemed rather out of touch with reality to presume that her deep emotional and familial issues were resolved so easily.

Besides the previously stated concerns, the most egregious aspect of the movie was the awkward not-a-romance forced between Amber and the pseudo-bad-boy racecar driver, Cody Jackson.

Roped into doing community service with the church, the first thing he chooses to do is immediately pursue the first woman he sets eyes on — Amber. Cody insensitively ignores the fact that she’s still mourning the death of her husband.

This supposed hot-shot racecar driver proceeds to prove his complete lack of judgement by repeatedly ignoring the simple coaching he is given when told to slow down during turns in his races.

This is obviously supposed to be a metaphor for needing to “slow down” in life. However, it just results in his character coming off as childish and annoying.

After finally overcoming his impulsive behavior and winning the race, Amber and Cody’s vague relationship ultimately culminated in an ambiguous kiss on the cheek. It’s as if the directors didn’t know what to do with them at the end of the movie without some sort of kiss.

The scenes between Amber and Cody are by far the most awkward attempt at romance in recent memory partially due to his poor acting but mainly because of poor writing. The storyline would have been wholly improved by nixing this truly cringeworthy subplot.

It was nice to see an attempt at representation for a more diverse rural community highlighted on the big screen, as well as a tribute to military families. However, the unrealistic emotional resolution and unnecessary romance were largely mishandled by writers and dragged down what was supposed to be an uplifting movie.

Rebecca Vrbas is a junior in journalism and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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