Overcomer (AU - PG/US - PG)

In a word: Encouraging

Overcomer movie 

 

"The impact of the tale lies in its exploration of the dual themes of identity and forgiveness. The key characters are faced with the challenges of determining who they really are and discovering how God defines them."

Overcomer is unabashedly a Christian production. This a film where prayer, evangelism and Bible readings are woven into a drama about a highschool sports coach and the training of a cross-country runner.

It's set in the small town of Franklin where the closure of the local steel mill causes many of the families to leave town and where highschool basketball coach John Harrison (played by writer/director Alex Kendrick) has his plans for winning the season sent into disarray when all his star players leave for greener pastures.

With those dreams shattered, he is charged with coaching the cross-country running team which has only one runner: Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright-Thompson). Hannah suffers from asthma, steals compulsively and has struggled with her identity since being orphaned from a young age. Now, this underdog athlete and her coach must overcome all the odds to rise in victory. John and Hannah find unlikely help from a blind old man and former runner, Thomas Hill (Cameron Arnett), who is convalescing in the hospital. Thomas provides not only spiritual wisdom, but also the coaching secrets to winning a race.

The acting and script are at times melodramatic and there are moments that will induce a cringe as the performers navigate the explicitly Christian jargon. If one can overcome the corniness, there are scenes full of emotion and triumph that pull powerfully at the heartstrings. The matinee screening in New York that I attended literally had audiences alternating between weeping uncontrollably and cheering excitedly. By the end, there was a round of applause and many exclamations of “amen” and “hallelujah". It was more reminiscent of a lively worship service rather than the usual hush of a movie theatre.

The impact of the tale lies in its exploration of the dual themes of identity and forgiveness. The key characters are faced with the challenges of determining who they really are and discovering how God defines them. Once their identity in God has been established, they must face the next challenge, to forgive others and make amends for past mistakes. 

This fusion of a heavy-handed faith message with the sports genre ends up complimenting each other quite effectively. The tried and tested plot of an underdog athlete rising to victory has always been inspirational. Overcomer adds to this triumphant character arc with an emotionally charged spiritual journey where the transformation of Hannah’s faith is mirrored in her athletic performance. The result is an experience that is surprisingly rousing, highly emotional and an encouragement to all.