This week, my wife and I received the movie Fireproof with Netflix. I'd heard a lot about it, so I was excited about seeing it for myself. It was better than I had expected.
There were a few pleasant surprises. This included the story not oversimplifying marital conflict nor the solution. So often, Christians (and secular people) argue for simple formulaic solutions--if you do such-and-such just right, then it will all work out. This film doesn't do that. Things don't work out perfectly right away or even on the "predicted" timeline. The film is rather predictable, but the predictable parts aren't as bad as I had expected.
Also, the "Love Dare" content was really quite good. They are simple suggestions that are solid in building relationships and trust. These can all-too-often be relied upon as perfect solutions, which was my fear in watching the film. However, again, it is not really approached that way.
Now for the negative. Most of the film puts the blame on the man in the relationship. Now there is a cute twist at the end that shows the relationship problems can be caused by the woman, too. The sense I got, though, was there the focus on repairing relationships was too much on only one partner instead of both working together. Sometimes both are not invested enough, and each needs to only take responsibility for themselves, but I wish there was some more reciprocity in responsibility by the end of the film. Even my wife said, "Is she going to apologize?"
The need for conversion put into the film seemed a bit artificial at times. I understand the role of God in the Love Dare, and I can't really disagree, but the way this was presented was frankly cheesy and a turn-off. My wife also said during the film, "I hope they don't imply that becoming a Christian will solve everything. And that only non-Christians have problems." I had the same concern. However, the film did not really imply that. It showed there would be problems. So I have to give the filmmakers credit.
Speaking of the cheese factor, a lot of the acting was that way. Several actors were church volunteers. However, the ones featured as volunteers were some of the better actors...
Back to the conversion point (mild spoiler here), Kirk Cameron's character becomes a Christian at one point with his father at the foot of an outdoor wooden cross. Just before the prayer, his dad asks, "Do you trust your life to God?" (or something like that). It's a fair question, but I found it ironic that it was in the middle of a movie that emphasized that trust is not just a single moment in time decision. Rather, it is a process of displaying trust and building trust, both in others and to others.
Sure, a decision needs to be made, but too often the single moment in time is overemphasized to the detriment of the journey and process. This is true for both faith and marriage, I think. We need to not rely on the moment in time decision to show we are good, but rather remember to continually live out that commitment.