Trust and Obey
Riley Adams (Natalie Weese) is many things; she is a college sophomore who as a Christian doesn't hide her faith even if the other girls, including her rival Aleah (April Oberlin), call her a Bible Thumper whilst she is also a dedicated dancer which is where Aleah will do anything to sabotage the competition. Riley's drive to be a professional dancer takes a devastating knock when she is involved in an accident which leads to her being put through some equine therapy as part of her recovery. But whilst the healing process happens it doesn't happen quickly enough for her as up until then her success had in her mind come from her own hard work and drive to be the best. Just when she thinks she is getting somewhere another disaster knocks Riley back forcing her to look at her life in another way and realising that she wasn't the one controlling her life and she needs to trust God that things will work out.
I hate to start my movie reviews by being negative, especially when the movie I am reviewing comes under the heading of Christian cinema, but it is what I have to be when it comes to "Healed by Grace". I have to be negative because this movie is too weak for what is an ambitious story which has various layers but can't do justice to them with this level of production. As an example the first 30 minutes of "Healed by Grace" is just background story as we are introduced to Riley, her strong faith, her love of dancing, the rivalry of another dancer, a dance competition which is really important, giving us extended scenes of dancing, and then we get the car accident. There is so much packed in to the set up that you begin to wonder whether it will ever get to the recovery and soul searching side of the story. And in truth this movie would have benefited from some brutal editing to make it flow better.
Now there is a reason for all this build up and back story as "Healed by Grace" is not just the story of Riley and her journey but the way her story has a knock on effect in others, such as her rival Aleah. It also makes "Healed by Grace" more than another one of those movies about a woman/girl getting her confidence back through working with a horse and to be honest that is a good thing as there are a lot of movies which have already covered this theme well enough already. But the amount of elements going on in "Healed by Grace" become too much and it has that feel of too many ideas trying to be combined in to one drama.
But I have to go back to the fact that "Healed by Grace" feels a bit weak, a bit like a church group hired some local cameramen and made the movie with those from the church going area who had some acting experience. It doesn't mean it is unwatchable, you have to say that Natalie Weese is sweet looking and does an okay job at playing her part with a natural charm about her performance but the whole production has issues and it ends up distracting from the story and more importantly distracting from the movie's messages of trusting God is in control.
What this all boils down to is that "Healed by Grace" has its heart in the right place and is an okay piece of Christian cinema for those who are already Christians who need a little reminder that God is the one who is in control and already has a plan for each of our lives. But it is overly ambitious and suffers because of the level of production can't do justice to it.