In Luke 10:38-42, the story of Martha comes vividly to life. Preparing to host Jesus, she runs about to and fro attempting to accomplish the tasks she believes are necessary in order to host this very important guest.
Martha's sister, Mary, simply sat at Jesus' feet. Letting go of the busyness, Mary chose as her only task to spend time with Jesus.
Luke 10:38-42 serves as the scriptural foundation for the latest Pure Flix Original feature film An Unlikely Angel, a lovely little story centered around Janie (Jillian Murray), a successful toy executive whose life has become a frazzled mess as the workaholic soon-to-be mother is becoming unraveled at the thought of becoming a mother.
Janie is, in many ways, like most of us. She has areas of her life in which she truly shines, yet she also has areas of uncertainty, doubt, and even fear. In the eyes of those around her, she is a shining success yet she also carries with her the very real-life baggage from her past and the understandable fears that no matter what she does she'll never be quite enough.
And so, like many of us, she continues to push.
An Unlikely Angel is a heartwarming tale that is part fantasy yet also grounded deeply within everyday life. As Janie nears her delivery date, she whispers a small prayer and it's answered in a very unlikely way.
An Unlikely Angel is a touching reminder that ours is a God of second chances and often unlikely answers to our prayers. We are surrounded by unlikely angels, including those angels in skin who love us, hold us accountable, and embrace us when we fail and fail again.
In Janie's case, this angel (Robert Amaya, whom I'm convinced actually is an angel) fast forwards Janie's life and gives her a glimpse into her potential future with the chance for a do-over. Will Janie choose wisely and will she change before it's too late?
If this sounds ever so slightly Dickensian, you'll likely not be alone in that impression. However, rest assured that there are no ghosts of Christmas past, present, or future and the only mystical presence is that of a quirky but warm-hearted angel with both patience and persistence.
Directed by Durrell Nelson based upon a script by Rebecca Rogers, An Unlikely Angel tackles what is in many ways the epic challenge of our contemporary lives. How do we live the busyness of our daily lives while embracing the simplicity of living a life of faith?
How do we become more like Mary?
An Unlikely Angel paints a broad but heartfelt portrait of a young woman whose whisper of a prayer guides her toward discovering the truth about the choices she's making and toward learning how to make better choices for herself, her family, even her career, and definitely for her faith journey.
As Janie, Jillian Murray is believable as both the driven powerful voice in the boardroom and the heartfelt, warm and fuzzy woman who wants to be more honestly present with her family. Murray captures the fears that I can't help but think many parents have - Will I be a good enough mother or father to my child? Am I really equipped to do this? Murray's Janie enters parenthood with the quietly traumatic experience of having had a mother pass away when she was young, an experience that begins to be amplified the closer she gets to realizing motherhood. Murray realistically portrays it all and avoids histrionics while bring a grounded truthfulness to Janie that rings true even when An Unlikely Angel leans into its more fantastic elements.
Aaron Mees shines as Janie's husband David, a devoted husband whose own future is dramatically altered if Janie continues on her current path. What is refreshing in the script by Rogers' script is her capturing of the impact of all these concerns on marriage and Janie's own fears that even as she starts trying to choose again that it may be too late to save her marriage. Both Murray and Mees capture this tension beautifully, persevering yet realistically so.
Enough also can't be said about the performance of young Delyla de Castro as Samantha. A gifted young actress, de Castro nicely portrays her character's journey and I'd dare say is the key element of this story in bringing to life the miraculous reality of second chances.
As an old Flash Gordon fan, I'll confess a big smile crossed my face when Flash himself, Sam J. Jones, pops up on the screen and adds an emotional layer as Buck.
And finally, of course, there's Robert Amaya. There may not be another actor who has so warmly and wonderfully defined faith-based cinema in recent years as Amaya. Amaya infuses every film he does with a sense of wonder, presence, warmth, and surrender and he very much does the same thing here. Amaya takes what could have easily been a caricature and instead makes it a marvelous, heartfelt element of this story.
Production quality is strong throughout An Unlikely Angel including top-notch lensing by D.P. Douglas Miller, a warm and welcoming production design by Bri Jones, and effective visual effects from Micah Johnson among multiple other standouts.
An Unlikely Angel is a Pure Flix Original film streaming exclusively on Pure Flix. Sign Up for Pure Flix now to start streaming!
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic