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on January 7, 2013
"Unconditional", starring Lynn Collins, Michael Ealy, Gabriella Phillips, Kwesi Boakye, and Bruce McGill and directed by Brent McCorkle is a gem of a little independent film. I saw this movie twice in the theaters despite its too brief and very limited release back in September 2012, and it is such a satisfying and inspiring drama that I can't recommend it enough!

Lynn Collins plays Samantha Crawford, a successful author of children's stories, whose life is shattered when her husband is killed in a senseless violent mugging. After more than two years of trying to deal with the crushing emotional loss and searching for clues pointing to the killer, Sam reaches the end of her hope and sets out to end her own life at the place her husband died... but is providentially stopped when she sees a young child struck by a car in the alley and is moved to help her. From that point, Sam is reunited with Joe Bradford (Michael Ealy), an old childhood friend who looks after the young neighborhood kids, and she is drawn into his struggle to make better lives for the children growing up without the love and family bonds they all need to thrive. In the children's own personal struggles that ensue, Joe's worsening physical condition, and several dramatic revelations that unfold around a suspected killer, eventually Sam rediscovers hope, unconditional love, and renewed purpose in living. And ultimately the end brings Sam to the point of finally finding forgiveness and redemption for the one she blamed for the death of her husband.

Great drama, poignant and yet often laugh-out-loud humorous, this is a story of tender emotion with a real twist leading to the VERY satisfying end. Based on and inspired by the true life events of Papa Joe Bradford and his ministry to neighborhood inner-city kids in need, this is an awesome story. If you love drama, rent this movie. I can almost guarantee you will end up buying it for your permanent DVD collection.
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on May 21, 2013
I think this film is a very good example of it's genre. I don't care for most faith-based films because too often I think they emphasize the spiritual over the material and the characters, they don't let you really get inside them first and understand their strengths and weaknesses so that their journey becomes yours. That, or they explain God's love rather than showing an example of human love that informs us of the greater power of God's love. Put another way, I think when you start preaching to the audience in a film, it kicks the audience out of the film, rather than involving the audience so thoroughly with the characters and situations they forget they're being reminded of something basic about kindness.

What did I like about this film? Michael Ealy's performance. He's outstanding. I have a strong bias in favor of Lynn Collins so I can't report accurately on her performance. She's good with what she has to work with, though I think her character is a little hamstrung by the narrative of her wanting to track down the man who murdered her husband. It's not badly done, but the hot or hysterical emotions that come with pulling a gun don't seem to 'fit' with her character... maybe I'm reading too much into it. I would've liked a scene where she expressed to Joe her anger at her incomprehensible loss. That aside? The payoff of her journey to me was worthwhile, and I was so engrossed with it that the spiritual punchline caught me off guard, like I mentioned earlier.

I liked that the film emphasized the importance of community outreach, of the need for good father figures, of the tragic loss of the same. That it related finding God's love in the worst circumstances. I liked that the child actors in the film had some depth to their characters, particularly the boy named Macon, he pulled a terrific surprise tear-jerker moment that knocked me out.

I liked it. It was simple, emotionally affecting and had an honest message about helping the poor. I think it succeeds in what it was trying to do.
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on February 23, 2013
I have been eagerly waiting for the DVD release of Unconditional since it was released in theaters, no where near us, last fall. Tuesday, while forced to spend the afternoon in bed, I used the opportunity to preview it with Elisabeth. I've got to tell you, I was not disappointed one bit. Papa Joe Bradford took an incredible God-given vision and in the face of much adversity he carried it out in a way that is inspiring to all. The writers, directors and actors do a superb job of telling his story. In 98 minutes they touched on many topics relevant to the Christian life. I personally came away with ministry ideas for myself, my family, and our church.

And it was entertaining, too. This movie will surely make you laugh and cry. But, hopefully it won't stop there. I pray it will create a stirring in you to rise up, find a vision and get busy showing the unconditional love of our God and reaching the next generation with the gospel of Jesus.

One word of caution. There are several scenes that may be upsetting to young children. Elisabeth ran out of the room at least three times. I suggest previewing this before watching it with your children. With that being said, I can't wait until my copy of the DVD arrives so I can share it with the family.

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on February 8, 2013
I am pre-ordering 5 copies to give to friends and family. This is a movie to watch again and again. You will cry, and laugh, and be so encouraged. It is a well-produced and well-acted quality movie. Do yourself (and others) a great service and get the movie for yourself and extra copies to share. We have the awesome honor of being able to call Papa Joe a friend.
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on March 5, 2013
It's great to see such a well-done Christian movie. Great story-line, acting and directing. It's not overly preachy or condemning so it won't offend non-Christian friends during movie night, and even my teen sons loved it.
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on September 8, 2013
This movie is great. Based on the true story of "Papa" Joe Bradford in Tennessee, the movie takes you through the lives of children who have grown up without a male role model in the home, what the adults have to deal with in their losses in life, and how they reach out to help young children have hope they never had. After watching this movie, I went to "Papa" Joe Bradford's website and found dozens of organizations that provide support to children with no male role models in the home. You can also find out how to reach Joe Bradford for a speaking engagement. The movie keeps moving, keeps you guessing, surprises you at several points, and gives you a hopeful ending that good Christian people can make a difference.
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on April 29, 2013
I really liked this film. The acting was pretty good and it kind of reminds me of an M. Night movie where you have no idea what to think until about the middle of the film and then it takes a few unexpected turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. If you are a Christian, it will be a fun ride with a faith theme and a good family film. There is not a strong presentation of the Gospel here so,don't expect it to be an evangelism tool but it is VERY enjoyable. It will make a great gift! This company has a few other films that look to be great quality faith films also. I'm looking forward to seeing other releases from them in the future! By the way, no one paid me to write this review, I bought this film and will probably purchase a license to use it for a large event this summer. It's that good...
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on August 12, 2013
Great movie. I wasn't even going to watch it, but it was on and then I saw this woman in an alley preparing to...I guess that would be a spoiler, so I won't tell you. But I put my laptop away five minutes into the film and watched the movie. I was taken in by each and every character. I wanted to know them. I felt for them, and then I realized that God has a purpose for all of us...After the movie, I sought online for the book about the Firebird. It's out there. I need to get one because this movie, the people in it - Joe Bradford and Sam Crawford - remind me that God is there to help us with the purpose He gave us. Thank you for a great film. God bless.
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on February 25, 2013
This movie was simply amazing. I am usually weary of Christian films because of the bad acting but this is not the case for Unconditional. It challenges us to break biases, be bold, and to reach out the community in need around us. The fact that this is based on a true story makes it even more challenging.
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on December 27, 2015
Fabulous. The message is uplifting and deep. The characters and acting are excellent and the photography and art are gorgeous.
Recommend to everyone. Wish there were more films like this that open the heart and show us the loving from God and invisible hands
that are at work even when situations seem hopeless. I was also thrilled this wasn't another film about a team sport. I would give this movie more stars if I could. I'm so tired of violent films and series--even very popular ones with children have so much mind control going on in creating a cognitively dissonant society. (least I continue a rant :) fini
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