Review by Gene
Tragic moments often begin to define a person’s life for better or worse. Whether we learn something about ourselves, become jaded, or lose hope all together. For Peggy, a family tragedy tosses her life expectations out the window, and sends her sense of direction into a tailspin. (Mild spoilers ahead)
Blog reader Gary Gregg emailed a few weeks ago suggesting this film and was giving it high praise. It’s streaming on Netflix so it’s easy to access. It stars Ashley Shelton, Bryce Johnson and Linds Edwards in a story that follows Knoxville realtor Peggy (Shelton) as she strives for normalcy and rediscovering her life goals after a miscarriage. Husband Mark (Johnson) isn’t exactly nurturing or empathetic to Peggy’s suffering, and it causes a great deal of strain on their marriage. In a time when she isn’t getting the correct attention and care from her husband, long-lost friend Tim (Edwards), who is now a monk, sends a simple postcard with his sympathies.
For Paul Harill’s first feature-length film, which he also wrote, this is pretty solid. I think he got a lot out of Shelton as she really used nuance well to deliver Peggy’s sense of uncertainty about her future and all her presuppositions about what she wanted in life. Peggy’s husband Mark is a bit of a caricature and he often borders on the contrived in the way many Christian films fall short in their characters; making silly choices solely to push a storyline forward rather than because that’s what the character might actually do. He’s almost unbelievably detached from his wife after the miscarriage, and his efforts to keep her or get her back lacked in sincerity.
The only other glaring complaint that I personally have is the lack of an effective soundtrack. Many of the films stronger emotional moments come in silence. That’s not at all bad. It can work well in many films, but I felt like it left something to be desired for many parts of the movie. That’s a personal preference. I know an overbearing soundtrack can completely ruin a film. The silence in Something, Anything certainly didn’t ruin it, but I think some carefully placed melodies would have really helped.
There’s a lot to be taken from Something, Anything about what makes a fulfilling life and the search for happiness. So often we go through the motions in life, taking on the next logical step. School, college, dating, marriage, family. For many, if not most, this is entirely fulfilling. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Unfortunately for Peggy, it took this miscarriage for her to realize that fact about herself. She had been going along taking all these typical steps in life, and when tragedy struck she wasn’t equipped to handle it. Her foundation was built on sand (Matthew 7:26f) and her husband was neither capable or willing to console her in her suffering.
The marriage in Something, Anything paints a portrait of what many might envision as a successful marriage. They both have good, high-paying jobs. They live in a nice home. They go out with friends and they’re expecting their first child. On the surface everything seems perfect. But one tragedy tears it all apart. As the movie progresses we find Peggy distancing herself from the materialism that she was convinced would make her happy. No more cell phone. No more high-paying realtor job. She was beginning to see that the powers, or products, of this world were not satisfying her soul. This was all the more confirmed by a temporary return to her husband which resulted in an angry outbursts at a minorly damaged SUV.
At this time in the movie they are still husband and wife. So, biblically speaking, they need to work things out together with God in mind in an effort to save their marriage. The movie doesn’t reinforce this ethic, but instead trumps it with Peggy’s own spiritual journey. For the Christian viewer this can be a good lesson at the importance of choosing your mate wisely. Having material things in common that you each want to accomplish in this life isn’t enough. Having commonality on a spiritual level is far more important. Paul wrote that we should not be “unequally yoked” or bound together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14). Imagine the struggles in place at the forefront when a Christian and a non-Christian decide to begin dating, or even get married. These are core issues that, when met with such trials as seen in this movie, are more likely to widen the wedge between couples than bring them together.
Of course, the primary issue in Something, Anything is not a struggling marriage but a woman in the process of spiritual discovery. Peggy becomes a recluse at the loss of her baby. She is understandably withdrawn and unsure of where to go from here. Her interest in spiritual matters is sparked by a card from an old friend who is now a monk. Her journey toward him coincides with her journey toward God, or at the very least her spiritual side. She looses herself of material items. She begins copying down and reading the Bible. She’s never quite sure what she wants, but she’s trying to aim herself in the right direction again.
My Rating: 3.5/5
I think this is definitely a film worth watching and drawing the teachable elements out of it. I had some minor issues with the acting outside of Shelton’s performance. I think she does a terrific job at embodying what it must be like to lose a child before every getting to hold them, then attempting to continue with her daily routine. I think the pacing suffers some in the second act, partially due to the sound issues I mentioned before. It feels very slow and dragging on in parts when it is just silent and nothing happening. In part, that’s the point; Peggy is a bit frozen in her reality and unsure of any purpose. But it cause some pacing conflict, in my opinion. Something, Anything is not rated by the MPAA but is likely PG or PG-13 worthy, and can be found on Netflix Streaming.