Overcomer is a Christian Drama produced by Stephen Kendrick, Aaron Burns, and Justin Tolley, and directed by Alex Kendrick
I had scrolled past it a couple of times on Netflix. It caught the impression of a cheesy, preachy movie, especially when the image of Priscilla Shirer (who played the lead character in the popular faith-based drama “War Room” by the Kendrick brothers) popped up on my screen. I thought War Room was a tad pretentious and preachy.
It toed the tired, frustration-inducing narrative that places the success or failure of a marriage at the doorstep of the woman only. So for a while, I passed on Overcomer until I made a random decision to see it.
Alex Kendrick — John Harrison
Aryn Wright-Thompson — Hannah Scott
Shari Weidmann — Amy Harrison
Priscilla Shirer — Oliva Brooks
Camron Arnet — Thomas Hill
Denise Armstrong — Barbara Scott
Set in a small American town, John Harrison is in flux after the shut down of the town’s manufacturing plant which triggers the exodus of a significant number of his players and their families. Amid this confusion, he is thrust into the role of Cross Country coach of the school.
Only that there are no students interested in running long-distance races except for Hannah Scott, an asthmatic and troubled teenager.
At first, it appeared as if the story would centre around John Harrison, the much admired and respected high school basketball coach played by Alex Kendrick until a few scenes later when we are introduced to the real protagonist, 15-year old orphan, Hannah Scott.
The story would unravel between the health and psychological challenges of the reticent but talented teenager and the Harrisons who come to offer succour to Miss Scott.
Soon, we begin to understand the issues that plague Hannah as well as the far-reaching impact a dysfunctional family unit has on its most vulnerable member: the child.
The story maintains a steady, interesting pace, and soon, former Cross Country runner— the ailing Thomas Hill enters the picture— through a chance meeting with Coach Harrison.
The rest of the film explores the import of this fortuitous friendship and what it means for a withdrawn Hannah and her overprotective grandmother.
While Overcomer does not pretend to be anything more than a Christian movie that inspires faith and hope, it does not shove religion and its appurtenances down the throat.
It is devoid of vehement or prolonged prayers and the usual ubiquitous emblems of Christendom such as the church, a choir, or a zealous preacher.
The two-hour motion picture is a soothing balm in a world that finds itself in a precarious situation. It delves into the age-old identity question, “Who are you?” And goes ahead to steer the viewer in the direction of a supreme entity in whom purpose can be found.
The conversations are heartfelt and sincere.
In the beginning, it’s a little difficult to decipher if Hannah is a victim of a terrible upbringing. Our first introduction to the young lady sees her pilfer a headphone, but it doesn’t take long to realise her thieving habit is symptomatic of something deeper.
I could relate with Overcomer in many ways.
Hannah’s eventual discovery of her father, thanks to John and Amy Harrison reminded me of the importance of the family unit, and in particular, the critical role biological parents are supposed to play in the lives of their children.
As one who recently lost her father, I have become more attuned to the ever-available fatherhood of God. The absence of my birth father made sure of this. Nevertheless, the inner turmoil and loss a younger person like Hannah Scott who had lacked the care and guidance of both parents all her life wasn’t lost on me.
I am dialogue champion so I loved the conversations, and there was plenty of them.
I also loved the simplicity with which the word of God was presented: in expression, in conversations, in affirmations, and action.
Perhaps, the presence of an antagonist would have created the twist that seemed to be lacking in the movie.
I reckon its makers planted the health challenge Hannah had to battle as some kind of antagonist; albeit a biological one.
Aside from that, I found Overcomer refreshing.
For the Believer, it’s a refresher course on the basics of Christianity and the scriptural riches we tend to gloss over when we read the Bible.
I was a little surprised that Overcomer made me cry…I mean, it wasn’t as poignant as “Miracle in Cell No 7” yet, I couldn’t stop the tears when they came.
I also think my reaction had something to do with the pent up frustration of living in these tumultuous times.
Overcomer is as enlivening as it is comforting.
Do I recommend it?
If you need a dose of inspiration and something to make you believe again—a hundred per cent.