By Rusty Wright, Special to ASSIST News Service (ANS Movie Review)
MOUNT HERMON, CA (ANS – October 19, 2017) – Not always in sync with your spouse or partner? Try befriending a homeless ex-con who shuns you. Maybe some miracles will happen.
An art dealer to the rich and famous, Ron Hall doubted that advice. His spunky wife Deborah was insistent. Homeless drifter Denver Moore became a catalyst that transformed their lives and jumpstarted a major community service movement.
The book with their story, Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent, became a New York Times bestseller. Now it’s a Paramount / PureFlix film that aims to inspire viewers toward reconciled lives, solid relationships, and significant service.
The cast includes Academy Award nominees Greg Kinnear (As Good as It Gets, Heaven is for Real), and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy), plus Oscar winners Renée Zellweger (Cold Mountain, Bridget Jones’s Diary), and Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy, Coming Home, Transformers).
With friends like these…
(Spoilers ahead, but not too many.)
Nineteen years into their once-storybook marriage, Ron had an affair with a female artist. Eventually – with, as he explains it, “a little help from my friends” – he confessed to Deborah. Ron had confided in a male friend, who told his own wife, who informed Ron that if he didn’t tell Deborah, she would.
The Halls had found faith in God earlier in their marriage, but Ron’s business success had focused him on wealth and they had drifted from each other. Counseling and dedication helped rekindle their romance until they felt “velcroed at the hearts.” Deborah felt strongly they should volunteer at a local homeless center. That sent them on the ride of their lives.
When she first saw Denver Moore, Deborah wanted to befriend him – in spite of his angry, violent behavior. Ron was skeptical. Poverty, racial oppression, prison, and homelessness had built mountains of mistrust in Denver, an African American. When he first encountered Ron and Deborah (Caucasians both), he avoided them.
Persistent spiritual eyes
But Deborah persisted. In retrospect, Denver noted: “No matter how mean and bad I tried to act… I couldn’t shake that woman loose. She was the first person I’d met in a long time that wadn’t scared of me. Seemed like to me she had spiritual eyes: She could see right through my skin to who I was on the inside.”
Ron eventually followed. He and Denver became close friends, each educating the other about their respective worlds. Denver considered homelessness in Fort Worth, Texas, a step up from the rural squalor of his youth. Upper class society puzzled him. He wondered about raw fish: “Why …did rich people call it sushi while poor people called it bait?”
Denver asked about Ron’s possessions, “Are you sure you own them, or does they own you?” Ron often found himself the student and Denver the professor.
Ron assured Denver that their friendship would not be “catch-and-release” (a common fishing practice, though not among the poor) but permanent. Denver’s unselfish love reminded Ron of Jesus’ affirmation, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
As Ron and Deborah served the homeless, her sparkle magnified and their marital love deepened. They would need all that love – and God’s, too – for the enormous challenges still ahead, which the film depicts with grace and beauty.
Denver used to worry about how different he was from others. But he came to appreciate human uniqueness, that “everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. … This earth ain’t no final restin place. So, in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home.”
Profound life perspective.
Rated PG-13 (USA) “for thematic elements including some violence and language.”
www.SameKindOfDifferentAsMeMovie.com Opens October 20 (USA and Canada)
Copyright © 2017 Rusty Wright
Photo captions: 1) Movie poster. 2) Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) and Denver Moore (Djimon Hounsou) — Copyright 2017 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED). 3) Deborah Hall (Renée Zellweger) and Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) — Copyright 2017 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED). 4) Denver Moore (Djimon Hounsou) and Deborah Hall (Renée Zellweger — Copyright 2017 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 5) Earl Hall (Jon Voight) and Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) — Copyright 2017 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 6) Rusty Wright.
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com
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