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The Independent Critic

John Schneider, Dean Cain, Gavin Casalegno
Mike Norris
94 Mins.
Echolight Pictures

 "I Am Gabriel" a Well Intended Faith-Based Feature 
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For fans of faith-based cinema, I Am Gabriel will be a spiritually meaningful and emotionally satisfying experience that will likely both inspire and entertain. For those who remain skeptical of faith-based cinema, I Am Gabriel definitely won't change your mind.

The story takes place in Promise, Texas, a once promising town that has become a run down wasteland of dry fields, failing businesses, and kids looking forward to that first chance to grow up and get out. Just when it seems as if things can't get worse, a young boy comes out of nowhere with nothing but the clothes on his back and a strange mat tucked under his arm. The boy, Gabriel (Gavin Casalegno), brings a message of hope for the people of Promise. Will the people of Promise receive his message?

I Am Gabriel isn't a film for the non-believer, with its relentless devotion to faith and God as the answer for all that is plaguing the town of Promise and its people. While the film isn't likely to appeal to those who would consider themselves non-Christians, it is an example of the improving quality of Christian cinema. The Dove Foundation-approved film is a film that emphasizes the love of God and the power of prayer in overcoming all that life throws at us. I Am Gabriel is also is a film that addresses head-on the skepticism that Christians often meet in a society that has become leery of those who do good for no apparent reason and of the presence of miracles in life.

While I Am Gabriel definitely has a target market, even the film's target market of Christians will likely acknowledge that the film is plagued by issues common amongst low-budget indie cinema. The film's acting is hit-and-miss, the production quality inconsistent and the film's dialogue lacks the naturalness that made recent films like October Baby and The Grace Card so successful.

This is not to say that I Am Gabriel is a bad film. It's not. It's simply a film that won't likely experience any cross-over business and it's a film that may not experience as much success as many recent faith-based films because Christian audiences are beginning to realize that they can expect both a values-based story and a high quality film.

I Am Gabriel does experience a decent degree of success largely on the strength of its two central performances from John Schneider (October Baby, Dukes of Hazzard) and Dean Cain (Lois & Clark). Schneider resonates quite nicely as a local doctor doing some serious soul searching, while Cain manages to infuse his skeptical town sheriff with a thread of humanity that makes him sympathetic and compelling. Gavin Casalegno is a tad less successful as the mysterious Gabriel, mostly because he lacks the vulnerability of a child that would have really sold his character's initial presence in the community. Elise Baughman also really shines as Ellen, a woman who initially encounters Gabriel and who shares with her husband a particular unhealed tragedy.

I Am Gabriel has just arrived on home video and is available at most online and bricks-and-mortar Christian retailers along with your usual online DVD retailers. Fans of inspiring and values-filled faith-based cinema will find much to enjoy here. For more information on the film, visit the I Am Gabriel website at EchoLight Studios.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic