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The Independent Critic

Philip Bulcock, Kim Estes, Matt Jones, Sean Galuszka, Jasmine Jade and Amy Weber
Shervin Youssefian
95 Mins.
Spot On Media
The Making of Crossroad; Music Video for "Sweet by and by"; Deleted Scenes; Theatrical Trailer

 "Crossroad" a Compelling Faith Drama  
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 We are all part of a bigger plan. 

Michael (Philip Bulcock) is a man fueled by revenge. He sets up a meeting with Clef Robie (Sean Galuszka), the man who had murdered his wife and daughter six years earlier. His plans to kill him, however, are disrupted when unexpected events turn everything he has known upside down.

Crossroad is a reminder that eveything in life has a purpose and that we're all part of a bigger plan. It's a story that inspires, even when it stretches what many will feel to be the boundaries of believability.

That's what faith does.

Ultimately, Crossroad feels like a gritty cousin to The Grace Card. However, in this film the grace may be even harder to accept amidst such an intense drama and challenging circumstances. We like to believe in redemption and forgiveness, but it seems like there's always in our minds a limit to it. There's always something that's unforgiveable or simply can't be redeemed. 

I have a feeling that writer/director Shervin Youssefian would disagree. 

Grace radiates from nearly every moment of Crossroad, a compelling film that proves once and for all that a film inspired by faith can also be an involving thriller and psychological drama. Youssefian has managed to do what has seemed nearly impossible to most moviegoers - embody a film with strong faith values while telling a gripping and gritty life story. Michael's pain feels real, though that's as much because Philip Bulcock makes it achingly believable. 

The same is true, however, for Sean Galuszka's Clef, a man who in most people's eyes probably didn't suffer nearly enough for the crime we all know that he committed. 

We all have a story. We all have baggage. We all need grace and it would appear to be within our grasp, or at least that's how it all seems to play out in Crossroad. 

The film feels similar in tone to another recent film, Worth, which takes a similar set-up and creates an involving story to drive home the basic idea that it's never too late for redemption. I give a slight nod to this film, however, because the faith that radiates from the story feels more naturally developed and the performances are a notch higher in quality. 

Crossroad is a reminder, as well, of just how much I respect the work of The Dove Foundation. For those not in the know, The Dove Foundation has as its mission to recognize family friendly entertainment. Films are evaluated in six key areas including sex, violence, language, drug and alcohol use, nudity and other. While this sounds like an organization that would only skew to Christian films, and a lot of Christian films do get the Dove Award or Dove "Family Approved" Seal, the organization transcends Tipper Gore style antics and instead simply paints honest pictures of films in areas that do matter to parents. While there's no question that Crossroad is a faith inspired film, it's also a film that does have violence (light) and does deal honestly with challenging material. The film picked up a both a Faith Friendly Award and a Dove Approved Award for ages 12+ because it's not gratuitous in its presentation and, instead, presents honestly that these things can be part of our lives and it's our faith that helps us survive and thrive through them. 

In other words, I love the Dove Foundation's system and I respect the fact that they saw the true value in this really well done film. My hope would be that such approval would encourage people of faith to see this film and have conversations that need to be had. 

Much of the action centers around a seemingly innocent enough place - the almost stereotypical small town diner with the usual assortment of folks gathered. It's here where Michael has arranged to meet Clef, and it's here where everything that seemed so sure becomes more unsettled. It's likely that non-Christians will cringe at the film's depiction of just how central faith is to resolve such extraordinary circumstances, but Youssefian actually does a pretty amazing job at weaving faith into the fabric of the story rather than creating the usual paint-by-numbers "pray and it's all okay" drivel that can be so maddening for the Christian and critical moviegoer. 

While the performances are a little hit-and-miss in the film's lesser roles and there were moments where I found myself muttering "Okay, that was a little too obvious," for the most part  Crossroad  is a thought-provoking and emotionally riveting psychological thriller about finally realizing that life really does transcend our own experiences. In addition to terrific performances by both Bulcock and Galuszka, solid performances are turned in by Kim Estes, Amy Weber, Matt Jones and Jasmine Jade. In a brief appearance, young Brittany Ganiere is simply unforgettable. 

Tech credits are solid across the board including Geoff Reisner's lensing and Greg Martin's terrific original music. 

With an authenticity often lacking in faith inspired films and a terrific cast and crew to tell an involving an important story, Crossroad drives home its central themes of redemption, forgiveness and grace. The film is now available on DVD and it's a film you'll definitely want to catch. 

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic