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Two films to add to your Netflix queue (or equivalent)

Here are two films we recently cycled off our Netflix queue (why do they allow you to add so many?!). Both of them exhibit worthy themes and good acting, and they challenged me to examine my own life and how I live out my faith - so I think they're worth a consideration the next time you're looking for a movie to rent.

Dear Frankie (Stars Elizabeth Mortimer, Gerard Butler, and Jack McElhone): This film is #4 on Christianity Today’s 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2005, which lists top films that tell a good story of redemption: “something or somebody bad turned good, an uplifting story that celebrates truth, goodness and/or biblical values, etc.” My husband and I are working our way through the list, and Dear Frankie definitely deserves its place there. It is a simple, exquisite story of a single mother who hires a stranger to pretend to be the absent father to whom her deaf son has been writing letters all his life. Besides leaving me laughing one minute and teared-up the next, it also left me thinking through such thoughts as the power and effects of family, both by blood and formed apart from that; children and their power to give us incredibly clear and poignant insights into truth (no wonder Jesus says we must be like children to enter the kingdom); and the nature and power of community, which sometimes begins with a simple act of compassion by one person for another. Outstanding acting carries this film. Get reviews from a Christian perspective here and here. (Per CT, the film is rated PG-13 for language, though there isn't much of it, apart from a scene in which a bedridden man speaks abusively to his wife.)

In Her Shoes (Stars Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz, Shirley MacLaine): Before you write off this one as a chick-flick, my husband actually liked it (and he doesn’t go for chick-flicks). The story centers on two sisters—the older one a responsible lawyer (Rose) and the younger one, well, not responsible or a lawyer (Maggie). A deplorable act by Maggie leaves them estranged. While Maggie flees to Florida (to a previously unknown grandmother superbly played by MacLaine) and Rose works through life in New York, the two sisters begin emerging from their unsatisfying lives and dealing with uncomfortable baggage. But as they grow, they also come to realize how important they are to each other. Again, the film left me thinking of the power of family, to both love and hurt each other deeply; the power of truth to heal; and, again, how a single act of compassion can change a person’s life. Get reviews from a Christian perspective here and here. (Per CT, the film is rated PG-13 for thematic material, language and some sexual content. One of the characters dresses skimpily throughout the film. The sex scenes aren't explicit, but there is plenty of sexual and profane language.)