A longtime film critic, I have often shied away from indie and Christian films. But, we have seen such an increase in the quality of Christian productions the last few years, I am beginning to be hopeful every time I push the play button. To my delight, Seasons of Gray will rank right up there with other recent favorites such as Unconditional, Divination, and Rogue Saints.
Brady Gray (Andrew Cheney), his father’s favorite son, manages the family ranch while his brothers work hard on the land. When his brothers have had enough of the special treatment, they beat him up and send him on his way with a warning to not return. They wreck his truck and convince his father that he has died. Brady arrives in Dallas, TX and starts a new life, only to have his plans thwarted by the untrue accusations of his boss’s wife. Now in prison, Brady wrestles with his life’s purpose and the goodness of God himself.
Does this sound familiar, perhaps like the Biblical account of Joseph? Well, it should. Writer Sarah Stehlik and Director Paul Stehlik, Jr. set out to create a modern-day retelling of the story. And what a retelling it is! Not only does the film follow Joseph’s storyline in a believable way, the acting is wonderful. It’s always a pleasure to see a film that glorifies God while maintaining a threshold of believability.
When it comes to acting, awkward pauses, unconvincing moments of anger or passion, and a plethora of fabricated tears are always story killers. But Seasons of Gray delivers in this department. Lead actor Andrew Cheney, a relative newcomer to film, doesn’t seem to struggle with the varied challenges of his role. His character, Brady, rides the highs and lows from power to prison and back to power again. Cheney convinces us, and his good looks transfer well between the roles of farm-boy, prison inmate and corporate executive. Akron Watson, who played the best friend Chris, also deserves recognition. His excellent comedic timing gave levity to the story at times when it was most needed. The two played well against each other, and the result was a completely enjoyable film, start to finish.
Believability of the modern storyline adds another bonus to this film. When mirroring the account of a story as fantastical as Joseph’s, a modern day tale could jump right of the cliff into its own doom. Audiences will quickly buy into any wild tale in the superhero or action genres, but they expect dramas to be without fault in the believability department. Writer Sarah Stehlik did an excellent job creating a convincing story. Not only did she find believable correlations between Joseph’s story and modern day, she also managed to include a love story to thicken the plot. The dialogue and the character’s choices clearly convey the doubts that all believers wrestle with when things go dramatically wrong.
The story also covers a wide range of human experience and frustration. Including elements such as intense family conflict, temporary homelessness and unemployment, office romance, false accusations and sexual harassment suits, prison dynamics, the power of the wealthy to manipulate the law, and opportunities for revenge, this film doesn’t pull any punches. Seasons of Gray harnesses the essence of today’s human experience and wraps it completely around the God who worked miracles in similar circumstances thousands of years ago.
Seasons of Gray is opening in theaters across the country now. Be sure to support great films like this by finding out if it’s opening near you: http://www.seasonsofgray.com/theaters.