Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. Psalm 127:4-5
FamilyLife’s first feature-length film Like Arrows: The Art of Parenting is a whirlwind of marital issues, parenting struggles, and family dynamics that speak to the way that families struggle to know the right answers to the questions that life asks. Shot in snippets over approximately forty years, the film follows the joys and sorrows of Charlie and Alice (Alan Powell and Micah Lynn Hanson) as they raise their family and work through the issues they face.
We first meet Charlie and Alice in a coffee shop when Alice announces that she’s pregnant, prompting Charlie to propose to her with a hair tie borrowed from a barista. Such begins a life that is full of laughter, sorrow, and unintentional decision-making that impacts their marriage and their parenting. While Alice feels drawn to attend church, various moments (like their daughter being threatened with expulsion from the church nursery) separate them from a faith community. Meanwhile, Charlie is sucked more and more into the work zone, where he loses himself in hours of labor and draws away from Alice and the children.
Alice is left to handle the questions the children raise: “How do you make babies? Why doesn’t Faith (who is adopted) look like us? Where is Daddy?” As she and the children age, the questions get more and more serious, and the issues between them deepen. As Ronnie drives away to college, with a ‘friend’s’ drugs and a book about how God is just an illusion in his car, Alice realizes that she has lost something. When the hits keep coming - her daughter Kate is assaulted by an older boy she sneaks out to date -she receives a spiritual, emotional punch in the gut.
All of the moments that Alice has let slip by, that she has allowed to pass her by, come crashing down on her. What decisions have they failed to make along the way? What decisions can they make now that will make a difference? Ultimately, realizing that they’ve tried everything else, they turn to longstanding friends with strong ties to church, hoping it will be a lifeline to save their family.
Wonderfully shot under the direction of Kevin Peeples, with line production by esteemed producer David Cook and writing input from the Kendrick Brothers, the film has a stylized development that will remind audiences of Boyhood. We don’t need to know everything about Charlie and Alice to know that their struggle parallels ours: the weight of the world and family responsibilities can be distracting, drawing us further and further away from our spiritual center.
Like Arrows is the basis for a new curriculum from FamilyLife, but works as an overarching narrative about the power of family and the need for God in the midst of all things.