God Bless the Broken Road
Directed by Harold Cronk
Screenplay by Jennifer Dombush and Harold Cronk
Starring Lindsay Pulsipher, Makenzie Moss, Andrew W. Walker, Kim Delaney, Robin Givens, Gary Grubbs, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jordin Sparks, Arthur Cartwright
There are two certainties in life: death and taxes and in between, we live a life of endless possibilities full of choices. One of the greatest gifts we’ve been endowed with is the gift of choice. We can choose “right” or “wrong”; we can choose to ignore something or face it head on. Sometimes, life hands us a challenge that is not of our own doing and we have a choice on how we respond to that situation.
Amber Hill (Pulsipher) has an amazing voice and a strong community to support her while her husband, Darren (Liam Matthews) is on a mission in Afghanistan. When he is killed in action, Amber is left to take care of their daughter, the spunky Bree (Makenzie Moss).
The screenplay by Jennifer Dombush and director Harold Cronk follows Amber and Bree’s recovery from their traumatic event. The heartfelt and genuine story focuses on Amber’s struggles to overcome her grief. She refuses the help of her support network, something that was so strong before Darren’s death.
It isn’t until race car driver Cody Jackson (Walker) comes into their lives that she sees the light. Throughout the story, Amber rejects Cody’s attempts to be friends, but he finds a way into Bree’s world.
It is as these two characters come to a realization that they were destined to find one another where the supporting cast shines. Former NFL running back, LaDainian Tomlinson plays Pastor Williams. Though his role is small, his presence can be felt during the most crucial of moments. Robin Givens plays Karena, a friend of Amber’s who is there to support her as is Bridgette, played by Jordin Sparks.
The most pivotal character, or at least the most relatable character is that of Joe Carter played by Gary Grubbs as he steers Cody to where he needs to be. Literally. Kim Delaney plays Patti Hill, Darren’s mom. We know her intentions are good, even if she ends up being ingratiating. And that’s because she’s hurting just as much as Amber and Bree are.
Where the cast shines, the story tries to tackle far too many themes and doesn’t know what it really wants to say. There is a definitive beginning, middle and end, but they employ a flashback to tell Darren’s story, something that is meant to give Amber’s story a stronger presence. And, I don’t think the real issue is with Amber’s story; it’s with Cody’s.
Dombrush and Cronk paint a need on both ends of the friendship, but they didn’t use Cody’s real struggles to bring it full circle. I think they were so desperate to frame Amber’s struggles that they lost sight of the counterbalance between the characters, because each of the secondary characters had to have some sort of resolution as well.
The choices we make, the friends we have, they all interconnect back to Amber’s story, but in a very messy way. The struggle is genuine, there’s no doubt about that. We just needed to focus on one character or event and that simply didn’t happen here.
1.5 out of 4