I think it goes without saying that most “Christian” movies aren’t very good. The budgets are low. The scripts are poorly written. They aren’t given a wide release. They feature actors or actresses that are long passed their box office draw. Above all, the main characters are COMPLETELY unrealistic. They tend to portray Christians as “perfect” human beings with all the right answers. Movies that come to mind with “perfect” characters are “God’s Not Dead” (either one), “Fireproof” (other than Kirk Cameron) and “Facing the Giants.” The reality is that we don’t live perfect lives. We have our ups and downs. Our lives are like a roller coaster and our walk with Christ is usually no different.
This movie bucks that trend. “I’m Not Ashamed” is the story of Rachel Scott and the year leading up to the shooting at Columbine High School. Rachel was raised in a Christian house, but wasn’t really living out her faith when she got to high school. The summer before her junior year, Rachel went to visit her aunt and cousins who talked to Rachel in a non-judgmental way (see Colossians 4:2-6 especially the part about “letting your speech always be gracious”). While she was there, she rediscovered what it meant to be a Christian.
During the next year, she still continued to struggle with her faith. This was refreshing because, unlike most Christian movies, coming to Christ didn’t fix all of the main characters problems. Her relationship with her friends was still rocky. She struggled to find her identity in Christ. She didn’t always do the right thing. As a church worker, I thought this was the best part of the movie. It made Rachel more relatable and realistic. My students could easily identify with her and her struggles.
In the end, I really liked this movie and I think it would be great to show to high schoolers. I would not show the film to a middle school group due to the violence at the end of the film. It wasn’t gratuitous “Tarantino-esque” violence, but it was a little jarring watching a high school student get shot especially when you know that it was based on actual events. Most students are aware of the story of Columbine, but to watch it unfold on film was tough to see.
We used the film as part of our #REELTalk (Get it? It’s a play on “real talk,” but it’s a movie reel?!?!) series. We provided dinner, snacks and the movie and then had a 45 minute discussion about the film. There is material that you can order online that coincides with the film, but we let the discussion begin and continue organically. I took some notes about scenes or lines in the film that I thought were relevant and used that as a springboard for our discussion. It was an extremely successful night, and we plan on doing it again soon. If you’re looking for a cheap, easy event to have for your students, having your own #REELTalk event might be a good idea.