Christina Karis, Jefferson Moore, Keith McGill, Melissa Combs, Matt Wallace, Pattie Crawford, Sylvia Boykin, Kim Hollkamp, JR Stuart, Nakia Barney, Paul Kerr, Steve Ladden, Stuart McWhirther, Tim Kelty and Spike Westerm
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
"Pieces of Easter" a Rare Easter Film to Make You Smile
Since their start in 2004, Kelly's Filmworks has focused their cinematic efforts on largely inspirational films such as Clancy, The Perfect Gift and 1 Message, the latter being the film that actually brought the company to the attention of The Independent Critic. With Pieces of Easter, the company keeps the "feel good" message but wraps it around a bit of a rarity - an Easter-themed film loosely inspired by the biblical story of the prodigal son and, hold on to your Easter basket, it's a romantic comedy.
With the exception of 2011's Hop and other more retro fare, the Easter holiday has always sort of been ignored by Hollywood and even indie filmmakers. The film takes a rather basic storyline, snooty young exec trying to get home for a holiday weekend with her estranged family, and turns it into an entertaining and insightful film that lightly tosses aside stereotypes and brings home the lessons of Easter in a way that makes you smile, makes you laugh and makes you appreciate those people you call family.
The film stars relative newcomer Christina Karis as Alza, an obviously upscale investment broker whose car breaks down on her way to her family's Easter gathering. Of course, it breaks down in a small town with no easy options for help and no wireless signal to be found. She comes across Lincoln (Jefferson Moore), a reclusive farmer, whom she convinces to drive her to the family gathering. For this seemingly mismatched couple, this journey will be much more than either one ever expected.
The real mystery of Pieces of Easter may be just how Christina Karis hasn't been discovered by Hollywood ... yet.
Karis, an Atlanta-based African-American actress with a background in stage and commercials so far, is an absolute delight as Alza. Karis manages to make Alza simultaneously sympathetic and irritating beyond words, a young woman whose essential goodness is obvious even if she has sort of lost her way. Karis also has a tremendous gift for the film's moments of heartfelt humor, a humor that is informed by honest humanity and faith and an understanding that the things that make us different aren't nearly as important as the things that give us common ground.
While Pieces of Easter may not make Karis a household name, one can only hope it gives the actress enough exposure that we'll be seeing her again.
While his performance isn't quite as luminous as Karis's, Jefferson Moore is also quite impressive as the reclusive Lincoln, whose introspective ways don't begin to reveal his truly substantial nature. It's a challenge to create a compelling character when one is prone to monosyllabic responses to virtually any question, but Moore's Lincoln projects a heartfelt honesty that also leaves you laughing throughout the film.
Pieces of Easter is getting ready for a multi-format release on March 1st, and the Dove Foundation approved film should prove to be popular with couples seeking a meaningful yet entertaining moviegoing experience. While the film will likely be more favored by faith-based audiences, the film's commitment to authentic family values and an abundance of humor should also give it quite a bit of crossover appeal.
D.P. Kevin Crisp lenses the film beautifully, while Murphy Slone's production design and Nick Palladino's sound design are also top notch.
I actually really like calling Pieces of Easter a romantic comedy, though it certainly qualifies as romance-lite and the film's emphasis is really more about human connection, family and our need for one another. As a film that is grounded within faith, however, it's not often that a faith-inspired film successfully and convincingly pulls off romance without compromising its values. Pieces of Easter works as a human comedy and as a romantic comedy because Moore truly captures the heart of romance and it's that heart that is so wonderfully brought to life by both Moore and Karis.
For more information on Pieces of Easter, visit the film's website and be sure to watch for the film as it rolls out in theaters and online distribution formats.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic