Friday 27 April 2012

Hallmark's Firelight (Contains Spoilers)

I’m not generally a fan of Hallmark movies.  They’re inspirational and full of good moral messages, sometimes a little too obviously so.

However, I noticed that last week’s offering, Firelight, was starring Cuba Gooding Jr., a favourite actor of mine.  I decided to give it a shot and taped it on the PVR.  The story is based on a real program in a girl’s youth correction facility.  The girls are trained to be firefighters and do search and rescue.  I was braced for something overly saccharine but was pleasantly surprised.

The movie follows a young woman, Caroline, who is sent to the facility after helping her boyfriend rob an electronics store.  She is sullen and withdrawn, rude to the staff.  Gradually one of the other inmates, a member of the firefighting crew, wins her over with steady support and attention.  Caroline starts to improve herself, taking classes, severing her ties to troublemakers and in the last fifteen minutes, joining the firefighting crew.

I liked the fact that the movie focused on her journey of increasing self-awareness and her struggle to figure out what course of action is best for her.  There wasn’t a blurry montage of weeks passing.  Instead it was drawn out, with setbacks included.  Changing yourself is a difficult job.  It takes time and a lot of effort and you still won’t always get it right.

I also liked the fact that the firefighting crew wasn’t portrayed as a cure-all for the girls.  One was released and ended up returning to the facility after committing more crimes.  Being on the crew wasn’t enough to get parole for another of the girls who fled the scene after hitting a pedestrian while driving and texting.  Caroline’s journey is about her getting the courage to try and improve her situation, not about making a lucky draw in corrections programs.

It was the sort of inspirational story I liked.  There wasn’t a happily ever after but there was a possibility of a happily ever after.  I prefer that to a guarantee because in life, there’s always more after the happily ever after.  The difficulties in getting there weren’t minimized and it wasn’t a success-only journey.  I’m always more impressed with people who admit they thought they might not make it than those who insist they always knew things would work out.  The character Caroline isn’t sure what she should do.  She’s afraid to try and fail, proving she doesn’t have what it takes.

The story was a little shallow, but did very well for a made-for-TV presentation.  It was worth seeing.

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