‘The Song’: Faith-based drama worthy of the mainstream

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By Randy Cordova/Gannett News Service

There’s a flirty, witty moment in “The Song” in which the film’s protagonist, a singer-songwriter named Jed, examines a female musician’s tattoos. She explains that the inkings are simply her way of preserving memories.

“Maybe you should try scrapbooking?” Jed offers.

There are a lot of little bits like that in the movie, an engaging faith-based drama. Screenwriter and director Richard Ramsey displays a knack for capturing the way people talk and behave. At times, the characters may feel like black-and-white archetypes — a common dilemma in the genre — but they usually manage to keep their humanity.

Jed (Alan Powell from the Christian band Anthem Lights) is an up-and-coming musician whose father was a famous singer. He meets pretty Shelby (Ali Faulkner) at a low-profile wine festival. She is a Christian who is saving herself for marriage; he is clean-living, playful and funny. The two hit it off and soon are married with a young son.

His career takes off, and he’s constantly on the road. He starts to tour with a musician named Shelby Bale (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas). It’s a little too obvious she means trouble for Jed: She smokes, drinks, pops pills and has the above-mentioned tattoos. She may as well be wearing a shirt with “Stay away, Christians!” printed on it. Pretty soon, Jed is inked up and joining her in all those activities. He also starts to share her bed.

There are some of the typical rags-to-riches-to-rags elements one expects in a movie like this. A scene in which Jed anxiously searches for pills in a bathroom could come from any number of show-biz-themed movies. It’s also no spoiler to say that Jed will come around in the last reel, which adds a level of predictability to the whole affair.

Still, the performances are uniformly fine, which keeps things involving. Powell, in particular, is terrific. He boasts a dynamic, slightly edgy presence that holds the film together. He also generates sparks with both leading actresses. Sexual chemistry isn’t a quality you normally find in Christian-themed films, but Powell brings it full force here.

Perhaps because Powell is a touring musician in real life, the concert scenes boast an energy and realism that keeps them from feeling hollow. He doesn’t feel like an actor playing a singer; instead, he creates a fully rounded character, which is one reason the movie works as well as it does.

Ultimately, “The Song” isn’t a great film, but it is engrossing enough to play to more than just the choir, so to speak.

[s3r star=3/4]

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents a film written and directed by Richard Ramsey. Running time: 116 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for substance abuse, smoking and thematic elements).

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