I think it’s universal in humans to want to believe in something beyond themselves and to look for meaning in the negative events in their lives. In the trailer for I Still Believe, it was clear that a story about Jeremy Camp, American contemporary Christian music singer/songwriter, and was going to revolve around faith and belief and his relationship with his first wife, Melissa. After watching it, I found it poignant, beautiful and loving with a positive message about finding hope and unconditional love.
I Still Believe is a 2020 American Christian romantic drama film directed by the Erwin Brothers and details Jeremy Camp’s (KJ Apa) memoir of the same title, focusing on his romance with his first wife, Melissa (Britt Robertson), whom he married in 2000 despite her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. It tells of how the couple met, their journey through her treatment and illness, and the aftermath of her death. It also shares Jeremy Camp’s rise as a singer and his college years as well as the impact of his love for Melissa on his music.
One of the strongest elements in the film is the messages shared. This is clearly written as a film dealing with Christian faith and belief and it is also very focused on the story of Melissa and Jeremy’s relationship. For those who are familiar with the singer, that focus is important and Jeremy Camp was clearly involved in the film process. Melissa’s message and her journey grab you by the throat, even when you know the eventual outcome and the film does an excellent job of expressing the idea that everything has meaning, even if we can’t always understand all of it. One person can make a difference with their life, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. The other message, of how unconditional love can bring two people together, is demonstrated in every scene between the actors portraying Jeremy and Melissa.
As a singer and songwriter, one of the most solid aspects of the film was the presentation of Jeremy’s music, especially the music he wrote about and for Melissa. What made it excel was the choice to have the actor, KJ Apa, sing the songs that Jeremy wrote. His voice was beautiful and did justice to the music from the artist. Not having been as familiar with Jeremy Camp, I really enjoyed the songs and the beauty of the messages in the lyrics.
As most of the film is focused on Melissa and Jeremy, the dynamic between the two actors, KJ Apa and Britt Robertson, is crucial. Their chemistry was sparkling and energetic, believable as a pair of young lovers who love each other deeply and with the greatest of care for the other. KJ was completely authentic as Jeremy and Britt shone in her role as Melissa. I also appreciated the acting of the secondary characters, such as Gary Sinise as Jeremy’s father, Tom, Melissa Roxburgh as Heather Henning, Melissa’s sister, and Nathan Parsons as Jean-Luc, another singer and a mutual friend of the pair. Everyone did an incredible job with their characters and brought depth to the story.
While I love stories of hope, this wouldn’t be my normal fare but there is little to dislike, other than heart-wrenching moments as Jeremy and Melissa deal with her illness and her impending death. But if I was going to look at some elements that could be improved on, I would say that the movie is a bit on the long side. Also, even without being familiar with the story, I found the key points predictable. There are no real surprises and there is not really any attempt to do so. The film and its messages are very straight forward with the storytelling aspects.
If you like the singer, Jeremy Camp and like faith-based films, particularly ones that discuss faith, hope and the meaning of life and death, this movie might appeal to you. Even if you’ve heard the story of Melissa before, the acting is excellent and the story beautiful as told by the writers and directors. Even figuring out the events of the movie didn’t prevent my tears at the ending and I loved the loving message. I also loved the chemistry by KJ Apa and Britt Robertson and their ability to demonstrate unconditional love. If any of that sounds good to you, check out the movie.
Rating: 4 out of 5 prayers.