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 was about so much more.
Considering its minuscule budget of $5 million dollars, Overcomer is doing extremely well in the secular cinemas. In America on the first weekend of its release, it was the number three movie, beating the likes of The Lion King and the Fast and Furious franchise. This is no mean achievement. Non-Christian critics panned Overcomer, but film-goers loved the movie so much, they gave it the highest rating possible. Audiences in the USA polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare average grade of “A+” on an A+ to F scale.
In New Zealand, Overcomer was number 7 at the box office. In Australia, it was the number ten film at the box office on the weekend, which for an independent Christian release is an astonishing result. Warwick Marsh, coordinator of the Canberra Declaration, says, “Overcomer is an amazing movie. I have seen Overcomer twice and it gets better every time! I strongly encourage everyone to see this movie and take your friends and family!!!”
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 One Who is Everlasting Love, 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 breathtaking 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 the Lord, 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, this movie is far from a preachy Christian flick. Anyone, Christian or not, can appreciate the rich humanity 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?
See here to find your nearest Australian cinema showing Overcomer.