Karen Abercrombie has some stories to tell. Best known for her work in War Room, God's Compass, and An Angelic Christmas, Abercrombie is front-and-center in the delightful new faith-based rom-com with a little dram Heaven Sent premiering on Pure Flix this very weekend.
Abercrombie is here as co-producer, co-writer (with Tara Lynn Marcelle), and co-star of this spirited love story that gets so many little details right that you can't help but completely surrender yourself to it. In Heaven Sent, Elise (Abercrombie) is a grandmother who has been hurt by her past and now devotes herself almost exclusively to her grandson Derek (Jemarcus Kilgore) and her creatively inspired shop called Moxie. Pastor Patrick (Leon Pridgen), on the other hand, is a widowed pastor who devotes himself to his congregation amidst all their foibles and quirks.
Both Elise and Pastor Patrick have joyfully given up on love.
There's a rich authenticity that radiates throughout Heaven Sent, an understanding of daily Christian living and a hilarious understanding of church life that helps to elevate this good-hearted film from the usual faith-based rom-com masses. From the opening scene's quirky congregants and pastoral attentiveness through the miscommunications that can disrupt congregational life and so much more, Heaven Sent is a cinematic delight from beginning to end.
There's a terrific chemistry amongst this ensemble, perhaps not surprising given that Abercrombie, Pridgen, and Kilgore all worked together on Discarded Things alongside director Joanne Hock, though the chemistry goes much deeper than that.
I've always felt like Pure Flix really shines when the faith-based and family friendly streamer steps outside its usual comfort zone a bit. Heaven Sent is a noteworthy example of this, a refreshingly diverse motion picture that slightly skewers the eccentricities of Christian living in a way that is funny yet loving and incredibly insightful.
Abercrombie is an absolute gem here, an embodiment of faith-filled devotion and zest whom you love from her opening moments. If you're a fan of Abercrombie, and I am, you'll absolutely love her here.
As Pastor Patrick, Leon Pridgen gives a similarly inspired performance that humanizes the pastoral role without ever sacrificing its dignity. As his parish tries to play matchmaker, Pridgen brings to life the inner workings of a pastor who both plays along with it all and more quietly deals with complicated grief and longing. Pridgen's performance is both emotionally honest and genuinely funny.
Jemarcus Kilgore's turn as Derek could have easily been a throwaway one-note performance, yet Kilgore's charismatic screen presence is so warm and winning that you'll instantly want him as your grandson.
As the story unfolds, and I'm not about to reveal Heaven Sent's secrets here, it comes to life in a way that feels in-touch with contemporary realities for church life, a technological world, and the sacrifices we make as Christians to love one another.
With faith and a little help from technology, will the spirit-filled romance between Elise and Pastor Patrick find its way?
You'll have to check out Heaven Sent on Pure Flix for yourself to find out.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic