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It's complicated. But it's not confusing.

What we've got here is a narrative revolving around three families in varying states of disarray, action on two very different continents, characters who age and mature over the course of more than a decade, extreme cultural differences, shifting timelines, and the disturbing fallout from a country spewing out refugees in the wake of a brutal genocide.

Beautifully Broken

85 Cast: Benjamin A. Onyango, Scott William Winters, Michael W. Smith, Emily Hahn, Eva Ndachi, Jessica Obilom, Eric Roberts

Director: Eric Welch

Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic content involving violence and disturbing images and some drug material

Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

That's a pretty ambitious amount of territory for a big-budget Hollywood production to cover. This is not a big-budget Hollywood production. But it has the spirit and ambition to take on such a challenge, and the results, while not perfect, are impressive.

The film opens in Rwanda, where civil war between the Hutu-led government and Tutsi refugees is resulting in the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in 1994. Terrified father William Mwizerwa (Benjamin A. Onyango), mother Ebraille Mwizerwa (Eva Ndachi) and daughter Aimee (Jessica Obilom), on the brink of being executed by machete-wielding soldiers, manage to escape and find their way to a refugee camp in Kenya. From there, a relief program permits William to establish residency in the United States before bringing his wife and daughter to safety.

On the other side of the world in Nashville, Tenn., adolescent Andrea Hartley (Emily Hahn), the daughter of loving helicopter mom Darla (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas) and success-oriented dad Randy (Scott William Winters), begins a rewarding pen-pal correspondence with a Rwandan girl named Umuhoza (Ditebogo Ledwaba), living in an isolated hut with her mother; her father was hauled off to become a soldier when she was barely a toddler. As the two girls grow older, troubles ensue, leading their lives in unimaginable directions that somehow manage to keep them connected.

Did we mention that -- through a church connection -- Randy becomes acquainted with William, who's now living in Nashville, Tenn.? Small world! And fortunate, as William proves instrumental in aiding Randy with the increasingly rebellious behavior being exhibited by Andrea.

Through secrets, disasters, grief, and entanglements in others' lives, a prevailing theme of this film is the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. Faith is much in evidence, revealing itself in realistic and subtle ways through the actions of the characters.

Beautifully expressive faces, evocative scenery, and muscular action sequences speak to the ability of cinematographer James King to capture the ever-changing moods that define shifting situations. It looks better than its words; dialogue can be awkward, with too many expository speeches that detract from the nicely composed rhythm of the story.

But overall this is an affecting journey, moving from what had been into what will be, with hope leading the way. "I do not believe your past has to ruin your future," says Aimee to Andrea, who has good reason for her bad behavior.

Filmed on location in Port Alfred, South Africa and Baton Rouge, the film -- based on a true story -- features title song "Beautifully Broken," performed by Grammy Award-winning country artist John Berry, Dove Award-winning pop-Christian singer Plumb, and Grammy Award-winning gospel artist CeCe Winans.

MovieStyle on 08/24/2018

Print Headline: Beautifully Broken


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