LOVE WORKS: A STORY OF HEALING AND HOPE uses crisp editing, adept personal storytelling, a realistic script, and professional camerawork to grab the viewer’s attention. It invites personal reflection about one’s own story and one’s need for hope and healing. The reality of broken lives in the movie leads to a caution for younger children. LOVE WORKS has a strong Christian worldview that tells viewers, “If it’s broken, Jesus can fix it.”
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong Christian, biblical worldview includes elements such as a surprise discovery of a late family member’s Bible yields a word of life handwritten in the margins, a Christian summer camp experience, leadership in a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, unexpected family baptisms, and forgiveness and healing occur in nuclear family relationships, but the opening moments depict a humanist life without God that bespeaks a humanist world where workaholic tendencies are cherished to achieve financial success, climbing the social ladder is prioritized through golf and country club life, and, bad, even violent, adult temper tantrums reign when others don’t fall in line with personal demands
No foul language
The opening scene displays a gun in hand as it re-enacts a yelling argument between a husband and wife; husband tells their oldest teenage son he’s going to shoot the son’s mother, a later argument takes take place at the family dinner table, father picks up a watermelon and slams it down on the table, a car hit on a train track is effectively hinted at but not shown, at first, a teenager is shown happily driving his car when suddenly a loud train barrels down the tracks and startles the viewer, while a narrator describes the details of the fatal accident
“Other women” are mentioned as a possibility in the life of the father in re-enactments, though nothing further is mentioned or depicted
No alcohol use
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
There’s brief mention made of drug abuse by a runaway, but it’s not depicted; and,
Dysfunctional family portrayal(s)/elements, as already noted above in other categories.
** TELEVISION GUIDE **
HEADLINE: ** If It’s Broke, Jesus Can Fix It **
Title: LOVE WORKS: A STORY OF HEALING AND HOPE
Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +1
TV RATING: Not Rated
RELEASE DATE: November 4, 2022
RUNNING TIME: 59 minutes
STARRING: Chris Conlee, Lynn Conlee, Janice Conlee, Karin Conlee, Alan Pittman, Sheila Cassady, Drew Shelton, Chris Loftis, Lucas Rayburn, Raegan Santucci
DIRECTOR: David Peter, Kathi Peters, Staley Colvert
PRODUCERS: Kathi Peters
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Bill Curtis, Linda Curtis
WRITER: Chris Conlee
BASED ON THE BOOK: LOVE WORKS: THE KEY TO MAKING LIFE WORK by Chris Conlee
DISTRIBUTOR: Redeem TV/Christian History Institute
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Teenagers and adults
REVIEWER: The Rev. Dr. Gary Olsen
A gun in a hand is the movie’s first visual, and shouting voices is the first audio. Both quicken the viewer’s heart rate. The shouting voices come from a man and woman arguing. The gun is in the hand of the adult male in the verbal battle. A teenage boy enters the living room, the site of the domestic argument. He then hurries to the back of the house to instruct his younger brother, found in a back bedroom. While the teenager returns to the living room fight, the younger brother runs out of the house and through the woods, following his brother’s instructions to get to the police station.
The younger brother turns out to be Chris Conlee, the focal character of this documentary, and the main narrator of LOVE WORKS: A STORY OF HEALING AND HOPE. Chris tells his story and his family’s truth as he experienced it. Other family members will weigh in through interview clips, interwoven with further re-enactments, and more observations by Chris. Through LOVE WORKS, Conlee lays out his unique life journey. Yet, all the while he increasingly communicates the universality of broken family relationships and the need for inner healing in every human life that only God can bring.
Conlee dives into the lives of his parents, particularly his father. A high school dropout, his father became a U.S. Army veteran, hard-working, successful local businessman as a bread company distributor, country-club golf champion, and the household’s volatile personality. Next, Conlee portrays the influences of his older sister and brother, and the tragedy that ends the young life of his older brother, Bubba. Even so, Bubba will continue to have an impact on Chris and the family. A few years later, the family’s church will find Bubba’s personal Bible in one of their pews. A 15-year-old Chris will find in it Bubba’s handwritten note in the margin declaring Colossians 3:2 (“Set your eyes on things above, not on earthly things”) as Bubba’s chosen life verse. This discovery will start Chris to “thinking about things above” and set him on his own faith journey.
Further milestones of spiritual growth are chronicled, including a commitment to Christ at Christian summer camp, leadership in a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (a.k.a. F.C.A.) at the University of Memphis, the impact of the Experiencing God Bible study, and the meeting of the woman who would eventually join him in marriage. Seminary, full-time ministry and church planting follow, along with the fruition of a family of his own. It’s that last development that will bring Chris Conlee to a key struggle in personal decision-making: whether or not to invite his estranged father back into his life as the grandfather of his children.
LOVE WORKS: A STORY OF HEALING AND HOPE tells this story with candid honesty, expert editing, and quality cinematography that all combine to keep viewers engaged during the one-hour documentary. As a story about fathers and sons, imperfect marriages, and family tragedies, LOVE WORKS stays real with the brokenness, yet reveals the healthy spiritual answers with a low-key, matter of fact style that builds throughout the movie. As the title tells, there is hope and healing available.
Make no mistake, LOVE WORKS has a strongly dominant Christian worldview. Yet that’s not quite discernible in the first third to half of the movie. The opening moments depict a life without God that bespeaks a humanist worldview. For example, workaholic tendencies are cherished to achieve financial success; climbing the social ladder is prioritized through golf and country club life; and, bad, even violent, adult temper tantrums reign when others don’t fall in line with personal demands. Ultimately, though, a strong Christian worldview is portrayed via several plot developments. A surprise discovery of a late family member’s Bible yields a word of life handwritten in the margins. A Christian summer camp conversion occurs. There’s a call to leadership in a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a call to effective congregational ministry. Unexpected family baptisms take place. Also, forgiveness and healing are celebrated in nuclear family relationships. LOVE WORKS wraps all these things in a true life story that’s compellingly told in a frank way. Caution for younger children is probably good to follow, but the movie should lead to worthy discussion subjects for older children and adults.
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