Vanessa Hudgens delivers a stirring performance in one of the best pro-life films ever . . .
There are so many reasons for pro-lifers to celebrate: Abortion rates are dropping every year, more people than ever are calling themselves pro-life, and ultrasound technology has put to rest the old lie that an unborn child is nothing more than a “clump of cells.”
Another reason to rejoice is that filmmakers and even big-name Hollywood stars are making films that affirm the humanity of the unborn. We’ve seen a bevy of blockbusters over the past 10 years — from Bella to October Baby. Next up is Gimme Shelter, certainly the best film on teen pregnancy ever made.
Apple Bailey (Hudgens) runs away from her abusive mother, June (Rosario Dawson) — an addict and prostitute who is grooming her daughter to follow in her footsteps. Apple tracks down her father, Tom Fitzpatrick (Fraser), whom she has never known, and begs him to take her in. A few days later, she finds out she’s pregnant.
After Tom’s wife takes her to an abortion clinic, Apple bolts again. She is taken under the wing of Fr. McCarthy (James Earl Jones), the chaplain of the local hospital, after almost getting herself killed. He introduces Apple to a shelter for pregnant young women where she meets girls who are in the same predicament. The film is based on the life and ministry of Kathy DiFiore, who founded Several Sources Shelters in 1984.
In addition to the stirring performance from Hudgens (High School Musical), which draws attention to the plight of pregnant teens, Fraser (The Mummy) delivers his best work in years. His character left Apple’s mother before she was even born so that he could attend a prestigious college. While his hard work paid off, he had lived for years with the pain of abandoning his daughter.
Gimme Shelter is everything a film about crisis pregnancy should be — gritty, challenging, tragic and real. Beyond that, the film is filled with hope and redemption, healing and grace. It’s no wonder that Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, gave the film his highest recommendation: “Gimme Shelter [explores] the hard questions regarding the meaning of life, family, love and suffering.
“Apple fights against all odds and finds hope in the kindness of some key people,” he continued, “including a hospital chaplain who expresses the true nature of a priestly soul of service, guidance, and the deep love of God.”
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.