Faith-based filmmaking has always gotten the cold shoulder when it comes to critical and commercial accolades. There’s only so many times one can attempt to push the same, time-tested message into the audience’s periphery. The consensus seems simple: if the solution is always God, why bother sitting through a foregone conclusion of a movie? Director Lance Smith’s A Time for Every Purpose isn’t exactly free of all the tropes that have trapped Christian films in the past, but calling it a step in the right direction should encourage likeminded creatives to try their hand at storytelling.
The story follows four people at different crossroads in their respective lives. Paul (Eric Diaz), a homeless veteran suffering from a severe case of PTSD-induced drug addiction, Ruth (Alexia Aldebol), a single mom to her son David (Cameron Sawyer), is struggling under the pressure of her junkie ex-boyfriend re-entering her life without notice. The guilt-ridden youngster Reggie (Zachary S. Williams), who’s constantly admonished for his driving accident that killed a fellow student, These individuals are in and out of a local support group run by Pastor Clark (Wade Hunt Williams), who has also taken it upon himself to guide young Reggie. Circumstances, however, have caused the relationship between the pastor and his group to rapidly grow strained, as Paul and Ruth are forced to confront their past without spiritual guidance and Reggie is uninterested in Christianity. The road to recovery is laid out before each, and it’s up to them whether they are willing to take it.
Where A Time for Every Purpose veers off the beaten path is in its dark premise. It treats its characters like real people and recognizes that personal development and stability are also key solutions to thriving in life, not just forming a relationship with God. In that sense, the situations these four find themselves in are ripped from reality and don’t feel outlandish in any way. It’s still frustrating to see the screenplay cluttered with melodrama, with dialogue that is both overwritten and overacted. The spiritual angle can feel a little overwhelming at times too, and the acting overall is subpar at best, save for a few standout performances like Wade Hunt Williams’ character Clark. Technically speaking, the film is quite polished in terms of its visuals and sound design, once again underscoring the point of this being a solid spotlight for Christian filmmakers. Worthy of mention is Edward Ryan Funk’s spectacular camerawork and the editing by Quinton Macari III.
Manage your expectations before seeing A Time for Every Purpose. Knowing what genre it operates under is crucial for understanding its message. It’s certainly not for everybody, especially those who prefer movies in general without spirituality mixed in. For those who accept and welcome a faith-based film with provocative themes, this one should more than impress.