A love story that spans over 40 years, contained within a silent film: Providence.
This dynamic mode of filmmaking delivers a uniquely styled experience to its audience. One of the largest appeals of the silent film is that it is almost completely focused on the story. In the beginning we see the early stages of our two main characters: Rachel and Mitchell. My hat goes off to the actor and actress who played these roles; it takes a tremendous amount of talent to act without the use of vocal inflection or style and these two kids do it like pros.
Emily Knapp introduces us to the character of Rachel in a captivating way. The young actress is lovable and cheery in the face of difficult circumstances and you feel for young Rachel’s plight right off. Yet, even though Knapp has a sparkling personality off screen as well as on, she also has the ability to draw you into the hardship of Rachel’s life. This opening ten minutes is a critical time of the film where the characters need to be established and the strong performance of Emily Knapp does just that.
Taking the proverbial stage bold and brilliantly, Chase Anderson steps up into the role of young Mitchell and totally knocks it out of the park. This kid has got some serious talent for the screen, it was easy to put myself in his character as the young boy was taunted and teased for being a nerd and a Christian. Chase really takes the story up a notch and sets the stage for what happens next in the life of his character.
When I heard that Stacey Bradshaw was going to star in Providence, I knew it was going to be good. Her name brings with it professionalism and class everywhere she goes in Christian film. Having sculpted an impressive resume of acting, casting, and producing films, Stacey has the experience and level of talent to bring her character to life. And I am segregating the stages of life for the two main characters into different roles, mostly because the portrayals, though they mesh well, are distinctively different from each other. Bradshaw gives us a more diverse range of Rachel’s emotions and troubles, gaining empathy and relatability with the audience from start to finish.
The big story for this film was Josh Allen, a new Christian actor who makes his career debut in Providence: his first feature film. Though Josh hasn’t had the kind of experience in acting that Stacey has, his character melds well with hers. There is not a professionalism gap that we see so often in Christian films, where one leading actor or actress will be far more advanced in talent than another. Allen shows that he has an incredible gift for acting to begin with such a difficult role and dominate it. His portrayal of teen Mitchell takes the story down a different path that leads to love, loss, and God.
The story again makes a large jump forward as Juli Tapken takes up the role of our leading lady Rachel. Tapken is an actress with the unique ability to cause the audience to feel what her character is feeling. The sheer depth of emotion that she poured into her character is astounding, and gives the story that much more depth. Handling rejection, insecurity, loneliness, and fear, Tapken brings the story around full circle from where it began, to where it will end. She comes off of the heels of Bradshaw’s performance with such ease that you hardly notice the years in between.
Rich Swingle… What can I say? The man is a genius. I have seen him in many roles, I must say this is my favorite. As the character of Mitchell matures into a godly man and pastor of a small congregation, Rich moves his character from a nervous young man, to a bold leader. His role is very emotional, as the trend of the movie seems to be, and I think that they chose the perfect man to play it. The funny thing is, he and Josh Allen are already so much alike in mannerism that you could easily believe they were younger and older versions of one another.
SUMMARY OF ACTING:
Though there were many character transitions, they were seamlessly done and perfectly placed. The selection of actors for roles was done in such a way as each of the actors was enough like the others that it did not distract to have the appearance of the main characters change drastically. In my opinion, the acting was spot on; even without voices these actors worked their way into your heart.
It was an interesting and pleasantly suprising turn of events that though you knew what would happen all along, it didn’t turn out how you thought it would. The road to get to the end point was certainly not how you envisioned it to be. Many films set themselves up to dissapoint by causing the audience to wait through a long story for something they knew would happen anyway: Providence was not like this. The music and transitions moved the story in pace and in power with abrupt transitions and modulation. The score helped to keep the audience focused. I’ve seen many a poorly scored film and was fully expecting Providence to drag because of lack of voices, but thanks to the score, this movie felt neither too long, nor too short.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable watch. I would encourage you to get a copy of Providence whenever it is released to DVD. However, AMC theaters will be hosting Providence on select dates in the near future, be watching the listening for it.
We need more God-honoring media, especially visual media. Though Providence did not give an alter call or have a resounding salvation message, it was a good, clean, Christian film that displayed God’s love. His timing is perfect and his ways are sure; God’s will comes to pass in God’s timing.
As always, thanks for reading and check out these people on social, their pictures are the links. Until next time…
—the anonymous novelist
Thank you for the very insightful review!
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