Viewers may think, just by looking at the cover of Christopher S. Clark and Patrick Henry Parker’s Just Let Go, that the film would be an overly religious film about a true story and these same viewers would not watch it due to its so-called “religious clichés.” However, Just Let Go is not a movie viewers should put down upon picking up. It is a movie many viewers should watch if not to learn, then to witness the true power of forgiveness and what it can do to the lives of people who are hurting.
One fateful night in 2007, Christopher Williams’ life was turned upside down and demolished as a drunk seventeen-year-old driver, Curtis Wright, crashed into his car and killed his wife, his unborn baby, his nine-year-old daughter, and eleven-year-old son. While many would do anything to put the thoughtless teenager behind bars and many try to while defending Chris, he had a different plan. Rather than unleash his hurt, his anguish, his hatred upon Curtis, Chris chose, instead, to forgive him.
As a viewer or even as a witness to Chris’ court sessions, many would immediately decide that Chris was the victim and the teenage boy made an incredible mistake and must be judged accordingly. This shows an ability that is very difficult for humans to accomplish: the ability to forgive. Many people would find it easier to point their fingers and blame someone else, but what good does that do? Who walks away from blame happy? For those who can find it in their hearts to forgive and express that forgiveness, even just by saying a simple three worded sentence, can be changed and inwardly transformed: “I forgive you.”
Chris’ story is an amazing one and one that is told very well through Just Let Go. Henry Ian Cusick did a phenomenal job in expressing the pain and inner conflict Chris must have gone through. Viewers can tell how much he was hurting, how hopeless he felt when he couldn’t save his family, how angry he was that one teenager’s drunken mistake caused him his happiness. The remaining actors and actresses did a very good job, especially Brenda Vaccaro who played Chris’ mother, Nadine.
The cinematography was very well executed, following more along with how Chris copes with the accident rather than just walking viewers through his story in chronological order. Any scene involving the crash is out of focus and confusing, just as someone who were hurt in an accident would see it if he or she were still conscious. Each of the family members Chris lost receives their time on screen through memories shown by home movies shot by a handheld video camera. By viewing these clips, it is as if the viewers are watching Chris’ family through his eyes.
One very fascinating filming technique done in the movie was whenever Curtis, played by Mitchell Ferrin, was on screen. For most of the movie, all the viewers ever see of Curtis is either a shadowy silhouette or an orange prison suit; never is his face shown until Chris speaks with him one on one. Through the court trial scenes and through Chris’ nightmares, viewers assume Curtis is a rebellious teenager who acts big and tough. However, when Chris talks to him and the viewers can finally see him, they see a meek and frightened boy. This is a beautiful technique that really added to the movie.
Viewers should not view this as an overly religious story. Viewers should view it for what it is: a lesson. Chris’ true story is a story that every human being will face at some point in his or her life and everyone will have a different story to tell. Faith can be shaken, but what is important is finding that faith again rather than allowing it to shatter and a vital part of restoring that faith is forgiveness. Just Let Go portrays Chris’ story in a beautiful light and uses good acting and fascinating cinematography in doing so. Chris was able to forgive what could have or even should have been deemed unforgiveable. His story will make viewers wonder: would they be able to do the same?
Originally published at www.examiner.com on February 27, 2016.