Movie Review: 'I Still Believe'
Personal story of love, loss and faith
"I Still Believe" chronicles the life story of Christian musician Jeremy Camp (played by KJ Apa,) Camp has won five GMA Dove Awards, has been nominated for three American Music Awards, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album in 2010.
Photo courtesy of Michael Kubeisy & Lionsgate Pictures
"I Still Believe" is based on the real life story of Christian music megastar Jeremy Camp. The movie is a beautiful, tragic, hopeful, and redemptive story of how Jeremy meets his future wife, Melissa Henning, who is dying of ovarian cancer. Although the movie is presented as a family film, the delicate subject matter makes it better suited for teenagers and adults.
The story begins in Lafayette, Indiana, with a young Jeremy Camp (played by KJ Apa) boarding a bus to California. He is travelling across the country to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College. Jeremy says goodbye to his parents (Gary Sinise and Shania Twain,) and his younger brother, Josh, (Rueben Dodd,) who has Downs Syndrome, and another brother, (Nicolas Bechtel,) who is high school. Jeremy’s father, a pastor, gives him a new guitar, which the family can barely afford. His father encourages Jeremy, saying, “For me, music is a hobby, but for you, it is a gift.”
After checking into the college, Jeremy sees a concert flyer for “The Kry,” lead by singer Jean-Luc LaJoie (Nathan Dean.) Jeremy talks his way backstage and meets Jean-Luc. Jeremy tells him that he likes his music and asks for help with his music career. Jean-Luc immediately gives him a job to hand him his second guitar during the performance. Backstage, Jeremy looks at the audience and admires a young student named Melissa (Brit Robertson.) She notices him, but the problem is that Jean-Luc has a crush on her too. After the concert, Jeremy meets Melissa, and she invites him to a bonfire at the beach, where he is encouraged to sing and play his guitar.
The story continues as Jeremy and Melissa begin dating. In the meantime, Jean-Luc is mentoring Jeremy and they record songs in a recording studio. Melissa and Jeremy eventually fall in love, but when Jean-Luc finds out, he’s upset.
Jeremy goes home for Christmas, and finds out Melissa is in the hospital with stage three cancer. He immediately drives back to California. He prays and says to God, if she loves him, then he will marry her.
At his concerts, Jeremy asks people to pray for Melissa. He gets a flood of cards and letters of support. At one point, the doctor says she’s cancer-free, but the story doesn't end there. When Jeremy talks to his father about everything that's happened, they come to realize that God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we expect him to.
Jeremy writes a song called “I Still Believe.” At the time, he feels hopeless, depressed and filled with grief. However, he manages to pick up his guitar to write and sing this song. Throughout her life, Melissa has a positive attitude about her circumstances. She says, ‘If I go through this, and it changes just one person’s life, then it will be worth it.’” Melissa never knew or imagined that people’s lives could be changed by hearing her story.
What Parents Should Know
“I Still Believe” is a heartwarming movie, although it’s a little sad at times. The movie is presented as family-friendly, but it’s probably not a good choice for young children, because of the stressful progress of Melissa’s cancer, which culminates in her getting chemo treatment and coughing up blood. The movie is best suited for teenagers and adults.
Melissa struggle with cancer is extremely painful, but Jeremy’s commitment to her reflects sacrificial love and devotion. The movie has a redemptive ending, and from the ashes comes a story of beauty, faith and sacrifice. The music is also good, especially the end credit song. I watched the film with friends, and it brought tears to my eyes, in a good way.