Studio: Sony Pictures Home EntertainmentFormat: DVD, 104 minutes
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Samuel Davis, Richard Dillard, Nicole Elliott, Catie Duff, Ellie Duff.
About the Movie: Left motherless by tragedy and abandoned by his father, high school senior Seth McCardle (Samuel Davis) faces enormous pressure as he strives to support his little sisters. At school, he endures the daily bullying of the football team. But fighting back only finds him singled out for punishment and assigned to an after-school work detail under the supervision of the reserved groundskeeper, Abel (SOUL SURFER'S Kevin Sorbo). Much to his surprise, Seth discovers that Abel may be the only one who truly understands his struggles. As dark times lure Seth toward desperate measures, the reluctant Abel may be the one person who can point him back toward the light.
This is the first I've seen from Samuel Davis who plays Seth. But from the opening scene, I wanted Seth to succeed. Davis gives Seth a very balanced telling, with just the right amounts of tenderness and tension. You understand that he's a good kid going through tough times, and you hope he'll make the right choices. But, as you watch the story develop, you're never sure what the outcome will be.
Abel's Field successfully tells a story with Biblical undercurrents in a manner that never feels forced, stretched, or heavy-handed. The larger story, as well as the characters' personal stories and their relationship with one another, unfolds at a natural pace. The movie takes its time but never drags. The focus is always where it needs to be -- on the main characters. As such, the cast and the scope of the film is limited. However, this does not imply that interest is limited. Rather, it means that there are no wasted scenes or extraneous noise to distract from what matters most. You get to focus solely on Seth and Abel. And they'll keep your attention.
I think you'll enjoy the film. It is safe for family viewing, with no foul language or other explicit yuck. That doesn't mean it's not intense, though. It's fairly heavy. Which is a good thing. It's never too shiny happy or sugar-coated. And that's another of the film's strengths. The realism and finesse with which the story is told help the film's messages land on listening ears and open hearts. You never feel like clichéd platitudes are being shoved down your throat.
Thematically, the film deals with personal choice -- about how, even when life seems to be dictating things for us, when it comes to our actions, we always have a choice. Other prominent themes are friendship, honesty, and faith. As Seth and Abel interact, it's clear that each has his own pain and struggles. A little at a time, each chips away at the other as the two come to trust one another. Each man, young or time-worn, guides and teaches the other as they journey together, and separately, toward peace.
Verdict: 4 stars of 5. Great music adds to the film. Hubby and I give it two thumbs up!
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ABEL'S FIELD on the Web:
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above DVD for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."