If you’re looking for a movie that’s the cinematic equivalent of eating an enormous mouthful of sugary sweetness, than I Still Believe is undoubtedly the movie for you.
I Still Believe is based on Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp’s memoir of the same name. The movie follows Camp as he begins college and meets Melissa Henning, the girl he would end up marrying. When Melissa develops cancer, the young couple and their faith are tested as they fight Melissa’s illness while encouraging followers worldwide to pray for a miracle.
Feeling like the world’s most expensive Hallmark movie, this faith-based romantic-drama is a stereotypical tearjerker. Overwhelmingly mediocre, the movie relies more on emotional clichés and tropes meant to tug at your heartstrings, rather than compelling characters or an intriguing plot. The movie splits its two-hour runtime between attempting to get you to cry in one of two ways: either through the anguish Melissa endures during cancer treatment, or through the innocent and overly-gooey romance between her and Jeremy. Surprisingly, this alleged Jeremy Camp biopic contains very little of how he built up his career, and an inordinate amount of time is spent on their dull relationship. Admittedly, the drama surrounding Melissa’s condition is occasionally mined to produce some of the movie’s best scenes, but a majority of the movie is spent on their forgettable love story.
The blame for the lack of intrigue does not fall solely on the screenwriter. Lead actors KJ Apa and Britt Robertson, who star as Jeremy and Melissa respectively, are completely phoning it in. In most scenes, Robertson comes across as crazed and unhinged, but to her credit, delivers some of the movie’s most powerful emotional moments with her convincing performance of a young woman going through cancer. Unfortunately, the good qualities of her performance are not evident until at least an hour in. In both his acting and singing, Apa is adequate. His acting is a little one-note and as for the singing, I’m still convinced he was only cast so that he could prove he was talented enough to put out a solo album. Even though the movie keeps trying to force how in love they are on you, the chemistry between Apa and Robertson is simply non-existent.
You could end up watching I Still Believe, but honestly, it’s not worth it. There are some thought-provoking moments about faith, but the slow-moving story and one-dimensional characters overshadow the movie’s few redeeming qualities. I Still Believe may entice audiences with its abundant sweetness, but it may leave others with a toothache.
Lionsgate releases I Still Believe in theatres on Friday, March 13, 2020
[Review by Luke Elisio]