An Official Selection of the 2018 Heartland International Film Festival, David G. Evans's latest film, after his acclaimed The Grace Card, Indivisible proved to be quite the crowdpleaser during this year's festival and picked up the festival's Audience Award for Narrative Feature during the Heartland Awards ceremony held last evening at the Deer-Zink Pavilion inside Newfields in Midtown Indy.
The film, which has been picked up for distribution by Providence Films and Pure Flix Entertainment, tells the extraordinary true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner (Justin Bruening) and his wife, Heather (Sarah Drew). Fresh from seminary and basic training, Chaplain Turner and his family arrive at Fort Stewart but, even before they can get unpacked, he's deployed to Iraq and Heather is left alone to care for the family's three young children while also serving the families of other deployed soldiers.
Eventually, Darren returns home but with deeply etched battled scars and experiences that are difficult to explain or comprehend the family and marital tensions rise and both Darren and Heather are left to decide if they're willing to face one more battle - the battle to save their marriage.
Set to open nationwide in theaters on October 26th, Indivisible should have quite the success if Heartland audiences are any indicator of the film's emotional appeal and transformative story.
Of course, it helps to have two such winning leads as the wonderful Justin Bruening, Matthew Taylor from Grey's Anatomy, and Sarah Drew, Dr. April Kepner from Grey's Anatomy and a veteran of multiple faith-based cinematic efforts. The two have a warm, believable chemistry that carries through even as Darren returns home and life for everyone changes.
Evans has a knack it would appear for pulling remarkably authentic performances out of his cast, his last project having turned comic Michael Joiner into quite the leading man and now once again here with Bruening, Drew and their supporting players. Heartland audience members familiar with Madeline Carroll's turn in Rob Reiner's Flipped, which had a Heartland Film special screening here in Indy, may do a bit of a double-take as Carroll shows up having all grown up in a supporting yet key role.
While faith-based projects have, at times, really struggled with portraying authentic wartime sequences, Evans's work here is so rich in authenticity and emphasis on character that the more intimate, character-driven scenes largely avoid the usual problems and deliver strong impact. This is especially true as the perils of war start to envelope Chaplain Turner, a somewhat naive yet good-hearted young man whose readiness for actual combat duty could have easily been questioned. Bruening portrays this transition from naivete into battle-scarred soldier convincingly, his glazed over numbness seemingly immersing him in a world he may not quite know how to escape.
Throughout it all, Sarah Drew gives a tremendously sensitive, informed performance as Heather and gives those scenes once Darren returns home an aura of aching doubt. The conversations between Heather and Darren, especially those before he returns home, are remarkably produced and give up those flashing red lights letting us all know that the world as everyone knows it is changing.
Bob Scott's lensing is solid throughout, while Darian Corley's production design manages to paint a remarkable portrait of the difference between the battle lines and the warmer, safer world back home.
Being both a Pure Flix release and a faith-based film, there's never really a whole lot of doubt where Indivisible. This is especially true if you're aware of the true story upon which the film is based. Yet, once again, Evans has managed to prove himself to be one of the faith-based filmmaking community's shining stars by crafting a film that will warm hearts and win audiences.
You'll get a chance to see it for yourself on October 26th. Watch for it at a theater near you. If, like Heartland audiences, you find yourself wanting to see films just like this one then make sure you drag yourself out to see in the theaters.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic