Sunday, June 23, 2024

Unsung Hero movie review & film summary (2024)

But this isn’t a music biopic or even an origin story, even though much of the plot centers on whether older sister Rebecca can secure a record contract with her pure, clear voice, which could rescue the family financially. (Spoiler: she does and goes on to become Grammy winner Rebecca St. James; for KING & COUNTRY has won multiple Grammys, as well.) This is, as the title suggests, a tribute to the person who held the family together when everything was falling apart: matriarch Helen Smallbone, played with optimism and authenticity by Daisy Betts. “Unsung Hero” follows the highs and lows of the Smallbones’ efforts to stay afloat in a foreign land, but Helen’s resiliency—as well as her faith—provides a consistent through-line. The casting of Kirrilee Berger as Rebecca is particularly effective since she so closely resembles Betts, adding believability to their mother-daughter bond. 

We know these attractive and talented people will be fine even before they set foot in their local church and meet the big-hearted neighbors who will rally around them in times of need. It’s all very affirming to the Christian audience it’s geared toward and somewhat predictable from a narrative standpoint.  

What is surprising, though, is that there are actual moments of raw emotion within the workmanlike direction and episodic script. Things get ugly. Pride takes over. Having dragged his family halfway around the world to an empty rental home, and with job prospects falling through left and right, David feels depressed and resentful. He lashes out at the friendly fellow churchgoer (Lucas Black), whom he feels has been too generous alongside his perky wife, played by Hallmark Channel and Great American Family mainstay Candace Cameron Bure. Helen, in a rare show of anger, even explodes at David at one point. 

“Unsung Hero” could have used more of such emotional honesty. But it ultimately must deliver a broad uplift that’s palatable for the whole family, so it tends to skim the surface. And aside from the parents and Rebecca, the characterization is woefully lacking; the other kids are all kind of a perky blur. Joel Smallbone has a solid screen presence in what must have been a challenging role, but his choices behind the camera with Ramsey feel mostly pedestrian.  

The ‘90s costume design is on point, though—so many bad sweaters on display—and the soundtrack of secular pop songs, including Jesus Jones and Seal, is period-specific if a little on-the-nose lyrically. For the most part, “Unsung Hero” does what David Smallbone himself didn’t do: It shies away from taking risks. 

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HomeReviewsUnsung Hero movie review & film summary (2024)

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