Directed by Alex Kendrick. Starring Alex Kendrick, Priscilla Shirer, Shari Rigby, Jack Sterner, Cameron Arnett, Aryn Wright-Thompson. Length 115 minutes. Rotten Tomatoes critics 48%, audience 98%
How do you run cross-country, let alone win a daunting race with the top high school athletes in your state, if you are afflicted with asthma and have a reluctant ex-basketball coach as your trainer? That's all I thought this movie was about: a young girl beating impossible odds.
But it turned out to be about so much more.
Without giving too much away, Overcomer is a truly ambitious film that deals with the trauma of growing up orphaned, the crushing identity crisis and wounds a young person can suffer without knowing her parents, and the healing in finding your deepest identity as the child of the Father on Whom all fathers ought to be modelled.
It also covers the trauma of losing the job which defines you, losing the worldly opportunities once steadfastly relied upon, and how such life-changing events can shake the moorings of a marriage.
Overcomer depicts imperfect characters struggling to find solid ground in an uncertain world, reacting in anger, or resorting to vice in a futile attempt to fill that gaping void within, that human thirst for love and security.
In their desperate attempts to appease their appetites, to flee responsibilities or simply to process unexpected misfortune, they end up hurting the people around them. Sometimes they can find healing and reconciliation in a few hours; in other cases, it takes years and a breath-taking miracle.
The acting is impeccable, drawing you into the characters' lives and feelings, making you weep with them, rejoice with them, and sit on tenterhooks as they grapple with themselves and with their circumstances, striving to find and fulfil their identity and purpose. Even when all seems lost, thanks to an unforgiving woman who is ready to take legal action to “protect” her only grandchild, we see her vulnerable side as she cries out in anguish to God, begging Him to help her do His will, to let go of the pain and rage she has carried down the years.
There are no black and white characters, only broken people reaching out for something or Someone to hold onto in the shifting sands of life.
Overcomer is a powerful film which explores multiple facets of the human condition, gently modelling to viewers how to overcome division, fear and physical barriers, triumphing in the bleakest circumstances.
Though produced by the Baptist Kendrick Brothers (Fireproof, War Room, Courageous), this movie is far from a preachy Christian flick. Anyone, Christian or not, can appreciate the rich humanity and soul-searching quest of this film. Ultimately, the central message of Overcomer, or rather, the central question, is: “Who are you?” Who are you when everything is stripped away – your family, your job, your health, your possessions? What defines you?
Jean Seah is a social media manager and freelance writer based in Queensland, Australia. She is also chief editor of the American site Ignitum Today and managing editor of the Daily Declaration.