Chasing Grace which was adapted from David Temple's novel, Discovering Grace, is a story about the redemptive power of forgiveness. Temple, who also writes and directs the film, takes on a story close to home in his first commercial independent feature.
Loosely based on true events, Chasing Grace is set in the picturesque, small town of Waynesville, North Carolina. Pastor Jonathan Matheson's life is wonderful, he has a loving wife, two great boys, a daughter who is the light of their world and a thriving church. Until one day at his daughter's birthday party, a horrible event takes place that changes his world forever.
This tragedy sets into motion a series of events that forces Jonathan to uncover the truth about a family secret that he has tried to hide for so many years. During the 96-minute film, the Matheson family tries to come to terms with their loss and navigate a way to handle their grief, not to mention the blame.
Throughout the movie the characters can be seen developing their own unique stories. Pastor Jonathan Matheson, played by Michael Joiner, plays a loving husband and father to a man wrecked with guilt and brokenness. His challenges test who he is and what he believes.
His wife, Angela Matheson played by Ashlee Payne is one of the most in-depth characters in the film. Her simple and loving nature gets tangled up in grief, while later she transforms into the glue that holds the family together.
David Temple plays Carter Matheson, the hard drinking uncle with a dark past that comes to light in a horrible way. Both sons Christopher and David Matheson played by Rusty Martin and Patrick Fagan are different in their own way but strive to broaden their attempts at typical teenage behavior. Abigail Rose Cornell who plays Grace Matheson doesn't have a very big role but she still lends herself well.
Although, the film's main plot is redemption and grace there are some tough subjects that play out. Drinking, fighting, attempted murder, guns and semi-harsh language are just some of the themes that are shown throughout. With that, this film might not be suitable for young adults under the age of 13.
The tragedy not only challenges Jonathan's will, but also that of his family. The dynamic changes with every new twist and turn and begs the question, will they ever get back on track again?
In this modern version of the Prodigal son, grace is a reoccurring theme throughout the film, but it sometimes can seem like it's hard to find. Yet, I think that is exactly the thing the story wants to evoke from its audience. Can we find forgiveness and mercy in the dark places? Even in the situations that hurt us the most? Chasing Grace teaches that forgiveness is hard, but that it's necessary to move forward.