This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things/Christian Movie Reviews: No Greater Love (2009)

I absolutely adore the Christian film Grace Unplugged, so when I picked up the No Greater Love DVD, I was delighted to see the label, “From the makers of Grace Unplugged” on the cover.  “What could possibly go wrong?” I said to myself.

One viewing later….

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This is my review of No Greater Love!

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No Greater Love tells the story of Jeff, a workaholic who is about to propose to his girlfriend Katie, but stops in his tracks when his long-lost ex-wife Heather comes back into the picture.
Now both the trailer and the back of the DVD push the idea that this movie is about Jeff forgiving Heather for abandoning him and their son, as well as Heather forgiving herself.  However…
Well, let’s just get to the Hits and Misses.

The Hits
The actual premise is pretty interesting, especially in our generation where many people have experienced having a parent walk out on the family.  Most movies either villify absent spouses or just have them mentioned in dialogue.  The script is very merciful with Heather.  She is easy to empathize with and she is trying to make amends for walking out ten years ago.  As long as a character who messes up tries to make things right with a sincere heart, I can root for that character.
Jeff and Heather have a belieavable chemistry.  I can buy them as having been a couple at one time.  They also have a good rapport with their son Ethan.
This movie allowed me to root for Heather.  If only I could root for this movie. Why can’t I stand behind this flick?  Well…

The Misses
(Commencing rant mode) The movie is advertised as a journey of two people forgiving each other, but that plot point is resolved in seconds.  In addition to that, this movie is a demonstration of the oversimplification of forgiveness.  In this film’s universe, forgiveness can be achieved by a simple talking-to with some Christian slogans slapped on.
It took Grace Unplugged just fifteen minutes to get to its main conflict.  Jeff and Heather don’t run into each other until the twenty-five minute mark.  After that, scenes are either too long or too short, making it impossible for them to develop properly.  Hey filmmakers, pacing matters.
You know it’s a bad sign when a Christian blogger is calling a Christian film “preachy.”  That said, this movie is so preachy that the faith dialogue becomes a chore to listen to.  I shouldn’t be rolling my eyes when the pastor character says “God is in control” for the hundredth time.  Yes, I do firmly believe that God is running the show and He will never leave us stranded, but the message becomes meaningless when it is shoehorned into conversations where it’s not needed.
However, I could forgive all of these shortcomings if the plot didn’t feel so agenda-driven.  No Greater Love is so hellbent on getting these two ex-spouses back together that it forgets the personal sacrifice and sanctification aspect of marriage. Heather changes her ways for the good of her family, but Jeff–oh, Jeff–is obliviously self-absorbed and the script never has him own up to his selfishness. As you can tell, I really didn’t like Jeff.  Many times throughout the film, he goes from “I want you back, Heather,” to “You go to church, Heather; I’m gonna watch the game” in a matter of minutes.  This is the most halfhearted character I have ever seen, and even his sincere moments feel shady.
I’m a single woman, but even I know that marriage is about two imperfect people rising above their flaws for a Christ-centered marriage.  It’s about sacrificing selfish habits to be the best versions of yourselves.  If one spouse isn’t willing to change their ways, then you’ve got yourself a one-sided relationship.  In fact, the movie actually gives Heather reasons NOT to go back to him.  Not once does Jeff say something to the effect of, “You know, maybe always answering my phone even when I’m having a meaningful conversation with the woman I’m trying to get back together with isn’t such a bright idea.”
Heather, honey, when the man you love answers a work call while you’re showing him that you kept your wedding ring around your neck, that should send up a red flag.
Finally, the movie’s “ending” makes it clear as day that the budget ran out and they just had to wrap things up abruptly.  The film doesn’t end, it just stops.
A European-style ambigious ending would have been a lot more satisfying.

In terms of production quality and premise, No Greater Love is miles better than Christian Mingle: The Movie.  However, if I was a marriage counselor and I had to choose between No Greater Love and Fireproof to give to my client(s), I’d hand them Fireproof in a heartbeat.

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