It’s been a long time since I’ve been a teenager.
However, while watching an advanced screening of Because of Grácia (film released this weekend) I was transported back to my high school days rather seamlessly in this engaging movie that challenges the commonly accepted focus of teens and offers up the truth in the form of one student in particular who is living out their faith in God.
In its promotion, Because of Grácia may try too hard to avoid being tagged a Christian film. I root for efforts like these often, but mostly pray for a good film irregardless of its label.
Chase Morgan would love to live up to his own name and pursue something great. It’s his senior year and he’s still as insecure as ever but Eastglenn High’s newest student is about to turn that around. Grácia is a girl with charisma, intelligence and conviction but she’s not as “put together” as Chase and his best friend OB might think. A dark past gives her a unique connection with Bobbi, a misunderstood classmate with a pushy boyfriend and disconnected father. As Bobbi struggles with a life-and-death decision and Chase risks rejection, Grácia challenges her friends, teachers and even herself to step outside the status quo. Because of Grácia’s inspiring strength, those around her are finding it easier to speak up and fall in love.
In the end, it’s not about how the film is packaged, but the fact that it is well made, funny, real, and carries an important message about life.
Writer/director/producer Tom Sines, who teaches film in Canada, said he originally wrote the story as a stage play. When interviewed by the 700 Club, Sines said, “There is a demographic that I don’t see in films that I see in my classroom every day and that’s Christian young people trying to live out their faith. So, I started writing out a story about a kid named Chase Morgan and all I started with was the premise was that he was in his bedroom trying to get up the courage to call a girl and ask her out.”
Because of Grácia stars former American Idol contestant, Moriah Peters, who says her appearance on the show mirrors the experience of her character in the film.
The Hollywood Reporter stated that Peters, then 16, tried out for American Idol and told judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Avril Lavigne that she was a Christian who was saving her first kiss for marriage.
Peters said the celebrity judges praised her looks and her singing, but belittled her chaste lifestyle. One judge told her, “You’re trying to be too perfect,” while another told her, “Go out, kiss a guy, come back,” she says.
Peters’ character is similarly saving herself for marriage. She also sings and is called “perfect” in the movie, just like on American Idol seven years ago.
“I honestly thought the director built Gracia’s character around my high school experiences,” she said. “I was allowed to simply be myself, and it wasn’t difficult to dive into the controversial and tense circumstances.”
There is more than one hot button topic brought to the surface in Because of Grácia and that makes the film very gratifying to after-movie discussion lovers. Go see and discuss amongst yourselves.