We often hear that first impressions are not always the best. So was the case when I first saw the trailer and preliminary advertising for the movie The Identical. It looked like most every other "Christian" film I had seen, poorly made, acted, and just flat out horrible. As much as I hate to say it, the advances and preliminary bits I had seen on this movie reinforced that opinion, they looked so bad that I wanted nothing to do with it. Then something miraculous happened, I had an epiphany moment, I had fallen into the same thing I had accused others of. I made a judgment about a movie before seeing it.
The Identical starts off during the depression in the 1930's, a couple gives birth to identical twins and can't afford to keep both children. While attending a revival by Reece Wade, played brilliantly by Ray Liotta, the father of the children, two sons, decides it is in the child's best interest to give the child to Reverend Wade and his wife, Louise played by Ashley Judd. Reverend Wade is the pastor of a church and they raise their son to pursue his dreams, of course Reverend Wade is quick to point out that the boy will go into the ministry just like him. Unfortunately, the boy has a love for music that he can't explain and he wants to pursue his own dreams. As the boy grows older we see him following his dream of music, the son, played very nicely by Blake Rayne is a new comer who was discovered as an Elvis impersonator under the name Ryan Pelton, is exceptional. On this point, let's get the elephant out of the room, Rayne, as Ryan Wade looks a lot like Elvis, sings like Elvis and performs like Elvis. What one could see as a cheap imitation is quickly transformed by the quality of Rayne's performance. The performance by Rayne is so good that Elvis would be jealous because Rayne is not only a quality performer but a quality actor in a very good and thought provoking movie that Elvis would have loved to have played in.The Identical is surprising in other ways, from the great acting to wonderful music, (all original to the film,) costuming, editing and direction is nearly flawless. These are elements I didn't expect and seemed to be extinct from most faith based driven movies. I was pleasantly surprised at the well crafted story that ultimately becomes so emotional towards the end that you have to wonder, if one doesn't shed a tear or two you wonder if the person not touched has a heart. This will certainly be true for the family that has stuck it out, loved, and supported each other through adulthood. There is never any doubt that the Wade family loved their son just as much as if they had given birth to him. This adoptive family has a special bond with their son, it is presented in a wonderful, realistic way from the point of adoption to later in his life well into adulthood.
One of the things I loved about this movie is the strong family bond and love. While the character played by Ray Liotta is a pastor, at times coming across as harsh, it is done with a measure of respect that it is clear he loves his wife and son. It was refreshing to see a pastor portrayed in a realistic way, full of faith, love and yes, even faults. He isn't perfect, none of us are but he represents a measure of love I greatly appreciated. As many involved in various ministry work will understand, his character is presented in a way that many will relate to. We see a mother and father played as most seem to be, at times living through their children but this family ultimately realizes a child's dreams may not be the same as the dreams of the parents. While it takes one a little longer to realize this point, they ultimately both do. The viewer also ultimately sees why the character of Ryan Wade has reasons to love music the way he does. We question, that maybe just maybe, God planted those dreams and abilities in Wade just like he does all of us our own specific dreams and abilities. We see this especially later on in the movie when Ryan discovers the secret about his identical twin which he never realized he had until he, (Ryan) is older pursuing his own dreams.
The Identical is a surprisingly good film that will entertain those who love good story, a strong affirmation of family, with life lessons and faith along with a ton of good toe tapping music. For that reason, this is among the top scores I have ever given any faith driven film, on a scale of 1 - 10, for the 9 letters in Identical, I give The Identical a very strong, convicting 9
To see the trailer for The Identical click on the video, if the video doesn't work, click on the following link:
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