3 out of 5 stars
Three families. Two worlds. One incredible true story.
Some would call it serendipity, many would consider it chance while others would call it God’s providence, but regardless of the label, this is an unbelievable tale of human connection. Unbeknownst to the majority of the world, it is estimated that over one million Ruwandians of Tutsi heritage were slaughtered during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
This terrifying time in the African countries history led to wide-spread evacuation of many into the neighbouring countries. William Mwizerwa (Benjamin A. Onyango) and his family managed to get across the Kenyan border and found shelter in refugee camp. During their escape from their homeland, they managed to escape the death squads because of the merciful act of Mugenzi (Bonko Khoza), a man who was thrown in jail for his actions. After many months in the camp, a providential opportunity opens the door for William to immigrate to the United States and start over in Nashville, Tennessee. Going before his family and hoping to bring them over once he finds work and a place to live.
On the other side of the world the Hartley family lived a prosperous lifestyle in Nashville. Randy (Scott William Winters) was a father and husband who provided generously for his family, but he was using his family because of workaholism. His daughter was turning into a teenager who was beginning to see the value of her friendships, but still had a heart for others in the world. Andrea (Emily Hahn) became penpals with a young Ruwandian girl named, Umuhoza (Ditebogo Ledwaba).
Despite the distance between the girls, their letter provided a close bond that was tested when Andrea experienced a horrific trial in her young life. Each of these individuals could not realise the impact that each of them would have on the other as the drama unfolds in this international journey of hope.
Beautifully Broken could be dismissed as a quintessential Christian film from the trailer and the opening segment, but this would be unfortunate. The production does have the earmarks of this genre, but the story is one that overcomes all of these potential pitfalls. There is a nuance to the tragedies and trials of the characters that keeps it from being inaccessible to audience members with weaker dispositions, but the disastrous effects of the genocide do prove to be confronting.
The providential nature of these three families and the connection that binds them does make this a tale worth engaging regardless of one’s faith position. There are overt Christian elements and cameos from artists that will make Christ followers smile or cringe, but they do not distract from the impact of this story. Director Eric Welch manages to take the story and weave together each character and show the value each person has on journey to reconciliation of three families.
REEL DIALOGUE: The written word
In our society of email, social media and e-cards, the value of the written word has diminished. Postal systems around the world are dependant on junk mail and internet shopping for them to remain viable. Yet, we all still enjoy receiving a letter or card in our letter box.
Beautifully Broken shows the value of letter writing and the long-gone idea of a penpal. Despite mobile phones being available in all countries, not all people groups have access to computers and the internet. Also there is something exceptionally personal about the written word, something that must be celebrated within the Christian tradition. IF not for the written word and epistles being written in the early part of the church, we would not have the many teachings of this world-wide faith.
Here is my greeting in my own handwriting—Paul. I do this in all my letters to prove they are from me. 2 Thessalonians 3:17
Even though it is not as convenient as texting your friend and family member, have you considered taking time to write a note, card or letter to those closest to you? The value of this kind gesture may have far-reaching implications that go beyond the price of the stamp. Even if it does not change the world, but this word of encouragement may be the very thing the recipient needs to make it through the day.
Write a letter today
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Russ Matthews works for City Bible Forum as the Engaging Manager. He enjoys developing large public forums throughout the city to engage workers with the bigger questions of life. He oversees The Edge and Reel Dialogue.