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Review: Vanilla 'I Still Believe' requires big leap of faith

"Riverdale" star K.J. Apa leads wan romance, based on story of Christian singer Jeremy Camp

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The Christian romance "I Still Believe" does a better job of telling than showing. 

It's a movie that tells us its lead characters are in love and tells us the hardships they face, but never shows viewers enough to make us, well, believe.  

K.J. Apa and Britt Robertson "I Still Believe."

"Riverdale's" K.J. Apa stars as Jeremy Camp, a Christian singer who heads off to Bible College in California from his home in Indiana and meets Melissa Henning (Britt Robertson), whose eye he catches at a concert. 

There are immediate sparks, or at least what directors Andrew and Jon Erwin pass off as sparks. Jeremy and Melissa have the on-screen chemistry of two slices of Wonder Bread. 

Melissa tells him about the stars and they hold hands as their perfectly bland relationship develops. Their only complication is a mutual friend Jean-Luc (Nathan Parsons), a musician who has eyes for Melissa who has taken Jeremy under his wing. 

And then Melissa develops cancer, which is where this based-on-a-true-story tale turns weepy. The particulars are glossed over, but an instance of mass prayer temporarily heals Melissa, allowing her and Jeremy a few months of romantic bliss before medical complications return. 

Camp is a real singer and this is his story, though there's no real insight into his musicianship or songwriting. Likewise, the script sets up the two attractive stars but their relationship never feels genuine or complicated the way real relationships do, so the obstacles they later face don't resonate the way they should. 

"I Still Believe" wants us to believe in the power of love and other cosmic forces. But it requires a big leap of faith from viewers to fill in the blanks. 

'I Still Believe'


Rated PG: for thematic material

Running time: 116 minutes