WHAT TO SEE: Surmounting the modern identity crisis
Alex Kendrick, Aryn Wright-Thompson, Cameron Arnett, Priscilla C. Shirer, Shari Rigby
Run time: 115 min • PG
“If I asked you who you are, what’s the first thing you’d say?”
That question, posed in the new Kendrick Brothers film Overcomer, is accompanied by a more direct query: “What have you allowed to define you?”
Overcomer, opened in theaters Aug. 23, is about conquering life’s obstacles. Yet often the greatest roadblocks are not those externally, but those within, because individual ability to confront challenges depends heavily upon one’s sense of identity.
When closure of a town steel plant forces a major exodus of families, Brookshire High School loses half its student body. More devastatingly for basketball coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick), his star players are gone, and with them his hopes for a championship season.
Worse, John and his wife, Amy, a fellow teacher, take salary cuts, and John is assigned by principal Olivia Brooks (Priscilla Shirer) to coach cross-country, a sport he loathes. Come tryouts, he finds a “team” of one – asthmatic sophomore transfer Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright
Thompson), an apparent orphan raised from infancy by her grandmother.
While visiting hospitalized church members with his pastor, John has a chance encounter with a lonely patient named Thomas Hill (Cameron Arnett), once a cross-country champion. As John picks Hill’s brain for coaching tips, a mentoring relationship develops that has life-changing implications for both John and Hannah.
There is much “overcoming” in the film, as characters face various obstacles of personal disappointment, financial woes, poor health, habitual sin, and unforgiveness. Perseverance in athletic competition provides a natural metaphor for struggles in life’s spiritual. But the overarching message is that individual must define themselves not by sorrows and failings, but by identity as children of God, as it is through faith that each finds strength and purpose — for “Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 Jn 5).
GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.