It’s 3:18 pm
Looking outside at a warm spring like day. The cheetah is solaring in his bedroom but is still sharing his thoughts on our latest film,”1 Message”,from Kelly’s Filmworks. We have almost completed the entire film library that Kelly and Jefferson Moore have put out. We’ll be taking a look at “Clancy” next week and that will be the last film that we have to watch and review.
But for today,we are looking at a very ambitious movie that for the first time,doesn’t feature Jefferson Moore as its star,well sort of anyways and at 2 and a half hours,is the longest film that Kelly’s Filmworks has released.
The movie opens with Becca Norris (Ashley Kate Adams) dealing with after effects of having breast cancer. Her home is a complete wreck with dirty dishes,empty junk food wrappers and vodka bottles strewn around the living.
Someone is knocking very stridently at her door as Becca slowly shuffles to the front door,its her brother Joe and we see he is a very sunny and loving brother. He is concerned for his sister as she has become reclusive ever since her surgery. He attempts to motivate to get back into life by buying her a brand new laptop,fully charged and ready to go. It seems that at one time,Becca was tracing her family tree but once her cancer hit,she put it aside.
After a few minutes of chatting,Joe leaves. As Becca looks at her computer,we start to see flashbacks about how Becca ended up where she is. On the surface,she has it all,a nice house,a fiance who loves her,a job that is everything she wanted…at 28,she is having a perfect life.
But when taking a shower,Becca feels a lump on one of her breasts and makes an appointment to see her doctor,he in turn refers her to a oncologist who tells Beeca,she has cancer in both breasts and will need surgery right away. Becca is stunned and devastated. When she calls her fiance,Bret,who is on a business trip,to come be with her,he says will after his meeting and that is the sign that things are not going to end well.
Back in the present day,Becca sits and goes to a genealogy site and sends out a question concerning her last name. She then has a drink which we can see is becoming a problem that is getting harder to ignore.
As Beeca lies down,again flashbacks take her back to after the surgery,she has had one breast completely removed and the other one almost all taken as well. Joe and Becca’s best friend Suzanne (Juliana Allen) are with her but Bret still has not shown up,he has been delayed for a day because his company wanted to throw him a party for winning a sales award.
When he does show,the first thing he mentions is “have they mentioned reconstruction with you yet”? Becca basically pushes him out of her room and cries herself to sleep.
Becca wakes up and sees she has 1 message off of her inquiry,a man named Dean has answered and offers to help with any questions. Becca isn’t really all that interested and sends a half-hearted reply. When Dean answers back and asks Becca a seemingly too personal question,she angrily replies….and accidentally sends it instead of deleting it like she wanted.
When Dean apologizes and sets up boundaries for them,the friendship starts to take off. Dean has a full life,he has his code writing business,he plays golf and chess (offering to teach Beeca) and goes on business trips.
We find out that Bret ends up cheating on Becca and she catches him red handed leading to their break up. She also has a poor relationship with her own mother who despairs about Becca but has no idea how to handle the situation. This has helped keep Becca a self-imposed prisoner in her own home.
But the friendship between Dean and Becca grows,he asks her to go out and get his good friend a U of Washington hoodie. She then asks her brother to do this errand but changes her mind and heads out herself,she is very self-conscious of her body and wears a sweater zipped up.
While at the bookstore,Becca helps a student with boyfriend problems and her self confidence inches forward. With Dean’s encouragement,Becca slowly starts to reclaim her life,learning about forgiveness and letting go of the bad things and people who are weighing her down. She starts on repairing her relationship with her mother and stops drinking. Dean sends Becca a very important gift to help her get outside even more and his choice is perfect!
When Becca asks for Dean’s phone number,for the first time he hesitates,asking if that can wait just a little more time. After he sends her a beautiful ring,Becca decides to take a chance and fly out to surprise Dean…..where a lot of surprises await the two who have built a real relationship. It’s journey that neither one was expecting but was exactly what they both needed……
I admit,when I saw the run time on this,I was a bit daunted. A 2.5 hour movie built around a long distance relationship seemed like a real stretch but Jefferson Moore’s screenplay of a novel by Mary T. Lennox,works well. The time flew by because just like Becca and Dean,you wanted to know what was going to happen next.
As I pointed out,this is the first film that didn’t feature Moore as a lead actor…while actor/singer Mark Smeby played Dean,he had played the “heavy” in the “ “The Perfect Gift” as well as providing a great song to the film’s soundtrack. Now at first I thought Jefferson had provided the voice over for Dean until Becca met him in person but as Mark has let me know,it really was him the whole film. They sound exactly identical.
The usual Kelly’s Filmworks acting troupe were in play,regular faces like Tom Luce,Matt Wallace and Juliana Allen all pop here,in fact,Allen was really good as Suzanne,Becca’s best friend. Ruby Lewis ( “Another Perfect Stranger”) has a critical role Joni. Jefferson Moore and Christina Fougnie have a really cute scene as a jeweler and his daughter. The only sour note in terms of acting was from Melissa Combs,she is a singer,not a actress,as her turn as the mother was really pretty awfully,you could almost see her read off cue cards during her scenes with Becca. Oh well,you can’t win them all.
But the rest of the cast was very good and Ashley Kate Adams conveyed a breast cancer patients emotions pretty much spot on. Adams is a mainstream Hollywood actress who (along with others) worked beneath scale to help Kelly and Jefferson get this movie made. The credits mention several of the performers’s family members who have been touched by breast cancer. As with all with all of the Kelly’s Filmworks projects,this was made with heart and love….”1 Message” is no different. This stirred a lot of emotion inside me personally because cancer has touched me so deeply.
I think Jefferson Moore did another fine job in directing as well,his own skills as a filmmaker are clearly seen in almost every project that Kelly and he complete.
I think he could have edited this film by maybe 20 minutes and it still would have kept it’s emotional punch. But these are things that a filmmaker learns as they go. You might hear the plot is “You Got Mail” for the Christian set and that maybe true in some ways,but the story here is quite honestly,a whole lot better then film,despite having a huge budget and huge actors in comparison. “1 Message” is a good film,we gave it two thumbs/2 paws straight up.
As always,you can buy “1 Message” at the Kelly’s Filmworks website
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