Review: Fireproof


My father-in-law surprised Whitney and I last night by offering to watch the kids while we went to the 6:30 showing of Fireproof in Lexington. Fireproof is another Christian-centered offering from Sherwood pictures, the same folks who made Facing the Giants.

In this film, Kirk Cameron stars as Caleb Holt, a fireman in Albany, Georgia with a darling house, a very attractive young wife, and aspirations of buying a boat. He seems to have the perfect life until you peel back the surface--underneath it all, he and his wife are virtual strangers, with enough resentment and hurt feelings to split apart Minneapolis and St. Paul. He's hurt (yet unsurprised) when she starts talking of a divorce.

Caleb is a model of self-sufficiency (and self-righteousness). As the film opens, we see his team of fireman carry a car with two trapped, screaming teeny-boppers off railroad tracks, avoiding an oncoming freight train. While his Christian best friend is shaken by the experience, thankful to be alive, Caleb shakes it off. This fellow has icewater in his veins. He can't deal with his wife's faults, so he's ready to write her off.

The next day, Caleb receives a "challenge" from his father--40 days of CPR for his relationship with his wife called "The Love Dare". Each day, he's to perform some action or service for Catherine, his wife--thoughtful gifts, flowers, words of esteem and love.

Initially, she rebuffs him. "This isn't you, Caleb," she says. In absence of Caleb's relationship, Catherine's developed an ad-hoc support system of gossipy, worldly nurses at the hospital where she's working public relations. As the film unfolds, we also see a philandering doctor attracted to her and her obvious need for compassion and companionship. Eventually, Catherine convinces herself the good doctor is a much better man than Caleb and leaves divorce papers on the table for him. (That kinda crap happens all the time, sadly.)

What follows is just...awesome. I won't give any more away other than to say this is a movie any married couple (or couple considering marriage) should watch. It will make you weep for the mistakes you've made, and rejoice at the person God put you with. Cameron's performance as Caleb is powerful--we feel the icy distance in his heart at the beginning of the film, and as that ice melts, we see a "strong" man understand what humility, genuine emotion, and openness can do for his life.

Also, the film is FUNNY. The cast of screwballs at the station provides welcome relief from each dramatic scene, providing that "up" moment we need as an audience to endure the next dramatic turn. In particular, the fat guy dancing to his own reflection is just...priceless!

* * *

Just to balance this out. . .this is no Hollywood cinematic masterpiece. The central cast of characters play their parts well, but some of the extras sound like regular folks they picked-up off the street. The production values are straightforward--no CGI, no fancy set or sound-stage work. They shot Fireproofin real houses, outdoors, and in a firehouse, but at all times the camera work was professional, and the framing and composition was excellent. In particular the side-lit scenes beside the cross outdoors were beautiful, and could belong in any Hollywood extravaganza.

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