Ben Morton (Jonathan Patrick Moore) and Ava (Erin Bethea) have been destined for each other since they were seven years old. While their relationship has highs and lows just like any other couple’s, the two move forward, learning what it means to love others through thick and thin. But in New Life, their newly-formed marriage will face a great test when Ava is diagnosed with cancer. What will they hold onto in the midst of this storm where life and death are in the balance?
In the film that Bethea helped write and produce, director Drew Waters moves his cast through a gentle, heartfelt love story that highlights a realistic portrayal of marriage. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always poignant, New Life will force you to consider your relationships from a big-picture perspective in the same way Bethea’s previous film, Fireproof, did. But New Life challenges us with something new, too: how do we respond to each other, and God, when life doesn’t work out the way that we want it to?
I hesitate to give more of the plot away because the curves that the story’s path took hit me hard. New Life doesn’t fall inside my normal film genres, but the way that Waters and Bethea formed the narrative structure works to highlight elements of our lives that I’ve seen personally and as a pastor to others. Ultimately, it asks great big questions like, ‘Where is God when it hurts? How do we find God in the midst of our storms? What purpose can God work out of suffering?’
To be clear, this film is a romance, a drama. But it’s also clearly the narration of the human existence, through the lens of faith. We all have choices we can make, not about what happens to us but about how we respond to others and to the situation. Ben and Ava’s love works in the context of the fairy tale where everything is good, but it proves to be something stronger when it rises about the situation to be something even greater.