Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Lyfe’s Journey airs tonight (10/26) at 7:00 PM (ET) on UP TV.

Synopsis: David Lyfe is a nice guy who has it all. At work, he’s a successful banking executive, a home he has a devoted wife and little girl and another child on the way. But Lyf’es life takes a severe turn for the worse when, on an emotionally painful trip to inform several bank employees that their losing their jobs due to the tough economy, he has a one-night stand with a lonely woman he meets in a hotel bar.  Cast: Keith Robinson (Get On Up, Dreamgirls), Angell Conwell (The Young and the Restless, Family Time), Richard T. Jones (Godzilla, Judging Amy), Judi Blair (Love Always, Flight), Erica Page (Osirus, The Game), Ahmed Lucan (UP’s Where’s The Love?, Homeland),  Jennifer Gullick (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), DeEtta West (Between Sisters) and newcomer Rylei I. Nooks. 

Lyfe’s Journey originated from within the UP family.  The screenplay was written by Corey A. Prince, UP’s senior director, human resources.  The film was directed by Ryan Richmond, executive in charge of original production at UP’s sister network ASPiRE.  The movie was filmed in UP’s hometown of Atlanta by Atlanta-based Swirl Films.

Review: After a little bit of a misfire with the its uneven recent film Heavenly Match, UP rebounds big time with Lyfe’s Journey which may just be the network’s best original film yet. It tackles an adult theme with old-style class and succeeds telling a story of the destructive impact of adultery in a way that the recently-released faith-based theatrical film The Song, IMHO, didn’t quite achieve.  There’s no doubting Lyfe‘s faith perspective but writer Carey A. Prince delivers his story in a far less strident way.  While The Song sometimes had me feel like I was sitting through a sermon, Lyfe simply had me caught up in its story of good man who makes a seriously-bad mistake.

Keith Robinson is completely vulnerable as  the guy who sees the foundations of his life collapse after succumbing the charms of the beautiful, lonely and (it turns out) nuts Amy (Erica Page). While David (who himself becomes a victim of corporate downsizing) wants to forget the night ever happened, Amy isn’t about to let him do that — with predictable results for his marriage and ironic results for his job prospects.

What follows is something of a deft cross between Fatal Attraction (without the violence) and, one of my all-time favorite films, Tender MerciesLike Robert Duvall’s Mac Sledge character in the latter film, you can’t help but root for David Lyfe to find his way after losing everything.  And, like Mac Sledge, it’s kind and non-judgmental Christianity that provides his path to  redemption.

One of the great things about the film is how you really do understand everyone’s perspective. It’s certainly understandable why David’s pregnant wife (Angell Conwell) and her mother (whose own husband was a serial adulterer) would have such difficulty forgiving him. But, remarkably, the film even humanizes, and has compassion for, the corporate bosses who feel compelled by forces beyond their control to make the painful decision to cut jobs.

And, though they don’t show up until the last third or so of the film, Richard T. Jones and Judi Blair provide real heart as the minister and his daughter who literally stoop down to lift up David when he most desperately needs someone to go out of their way to help him. Despite entering the story late, their characters are richly developed.  You end up rooting for them in their struggles as well.

Ryan Richmond‘s direction is also first-rate, getting great naturalistic performances from his cast while providing the movie with a cinematic look that would work on the big screen. I suspect he has a great career ahead of him.

Lyfe’s Journey is highly recommended.


Fox News’ Neil Cavuto remembers Terry Keenan

Personal note: I knew Terry Keenan from the days when we were both employed by CNN. I can attest that, when Neil says ” I never meet a single crew or staff member who didn’t like her,” he was speaking for me as well. I was always impressed by the warmth and kindness she exuded when interacting with others in the work place. She was just plain nice. My prayers and condolences to her family and friends.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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