The reason for the review of this movie at this current time is because it has rather recently been released on Netflix for instant viewing. This should create more opportunities for viewers and more chances for the film to be shared and watched by those gathered for utilization as a tool of outreach.
In Standing Firm the cast is a group of first timers across the board, the film budget minimal, there were times when as few as three crew members were present to shoot scenes, and it was all shot with one camera. If you add it all up it seems like a disaster waiting to happen in the minds of most movie viewers, but thankfully this film is genuine enough to not have that problem. Sure, you can actually see the actors get better at delivering their lines and portraying their emotions as the film goes on. Likewise there are early scenes where some of what happening exists outside of the shot. (There is one playful scene with the family where the father tips the son over out of his chair. The camera never pans, and ultimately the son even delivers a line off camera.) Fortunately, all involved pressed on and these distractions go away as the film goes on because these problems fade away.
The story centers on Dave and Steven Corwin, a father and son played by Rob Reisman and Eric Stevenson respectively, who are dealing with the loss of a wife and mother. Though the film opens with the funeral occurring there are flashbacks that tell the story of Jen Corwin (Debra Prohaska) as a loving mother and wife who desires for her husband, Dave, to come to know Christ as she does. The witness is carried on by Steven, who consults with his paternal grandfather John (Dave Gifford) and best friend Maggie (Maggie Harper). As the film develops things change drastically in Dave’s heart, and while he and Steven discuss that God is sovereign why bad things happen does not turn into a story of the wrath of God against sinful man. I cannot express how much I appreciated this nuance in the film, that the hardships such as an unexpected loss of a family member and the financial woes that puts on the remaining members of the household don’t represent the wrath of God against this father and son.
There are some wonderful performances in this film by the supporting cast, including some very warm and genuine scenes involving Gifford and Harper where they exude such a real joy that you can’t help but feel it through the screen. Overall the performances conveying the message are what make this movie work, because it relies heavily on dialog to carry the story along due to the aforementioned restrictions in shooting. Reisman and Stevenson shine brighter and brighter as the film goes on and ultimately both draw the viewer in as their world becomes more realistic and their character portrayals deepen.
I have to say this movie was a breath of fresh air. So many Christian movies today seek to press a real prosperity gospel agenda that when God comes all things fall in place seamlessly. This isn’t true to many genuine Christian experiences, and isn’t conveyed as the case in this story. The message isn’t one of, “rely on God and then all the things you want will come together,” but rather, “God is our peace in the midst of the storms of life.” True joy is expressed as opportunities are taken to come to know Christ, and risky moves made in faith are rewarded with reassurance that God is pleased, not with a big payoff in some worldly manner immediately thereafter.
Ultimately, the simplicity of the message addressed above is so refreshing I’m afraid many Christian viewers will lose sight of how good the film is because they’re seeking out a different, and more pronounced, agenda. Clearly the entirety of this film is about accepting and living in relationship with Christ, and yet it feels less “preachy” than many of its contemporaries because it isn’t also pushing some sort of surface level behavior modification. There are many subtle changes that are explicitly spoken, but are implicitly conveyed through the life choices made by characters, particularly Dave, but others as well.
I am thankful that this film is out there as an honest representation of the goodness found in life in Christ, rather than something less palatable and more forced. My recommendation is that you take the time to see it if you haven’t yet, and share it with a friend. The potential conversation from this film may prove to be much more worthwhile than is possible after others that will leave the viewer distinctly more defensive. While not lacking in message and conviction Standing Firm lacks the sort of attack that will only promote heated disagreements and frustration. Standing Firm is a film that opens its arms welcomingly, and in doing so well represents the message of Christ.