Voiceless

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April 12, 2017  
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Voiceless

Voiceless is the story of one man's fight that may cost him absolutely everything.
That man is Jesse Dean. Recently discharged from the US Army, Jesse stumbles into a job with a waning Philadelphia Church, as their outreach leader. Wasting no time, and refusing to settle for conventional methods of outreach, Jesse sets up a boxing club to connect with those around the Church.

But, sat directly across from the old Church is a prominent Family Planning clinic.

Disturbed to see that the Church remains silent whilst a clinic performing abortions is free to operate just a few meters away, Jess begin to take actions. Preaching, protesting, convincing women who enter to change their mind: Jess puts his all into living out his convictions, and creating ripples throughout his community.

As the two sides become more heated, a tragedy strikes which challenges everyone involved to ask themselves what is right, and what isn't.

Editor review

(Updated: April 12, 2017)
Overall rating 
 
7.0
Acting 
 
7.0
Script 
 
6.0
Direction / Production / SFX 
 
7.0
Theme 
 
8.0
Personal Rating 
 
7.0

Voiceless

Voiceless is about standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Jesse Dean is an ex-soldier, returned from Afghanistan and is undergoing a psyche-evaluation before completing his discharge. He says that God is in control and He is trying to do what he feels is right. So he ends up working in a community outreach role for his wife's childhood church in Philadelphia. The outreach centre is on the street level close to the church and as he gets the centre ready he cannot help but notice the women's clinic across the road which not only gives women free advice, but also carries out abortions.

As the film continues it's story Jesse feels that the church should take a stand, but all they want to do is organise a prayer meeting about the issue. Jesse feels something more practical needs to be done. One day after a girl that he talked to before she went into the clinic kills herself, Jesse decides he must stand for what he feels is right, even if it costs him his freedom!

This issue of abortion is always going to be a touchy subject and from reading comments on various websites about this film there are two clear camps. One side that is pro-choice considers this film to be poorly made and full of propaganda and the other side that is pro-life that considers this to be one of the most powerful Christian movies about this subject. I have to declare right here that I am pro-life and I am empathetic with the viewpoint of this film, however even in this film in the church the matter isn't clear cut.

There are some points to be made.
Firstly the clinic is perfectly legal it is never suggested that they are breaking the law.

Secondly the Church stands by and watches and does nothing, this is just one area that the Church fails to act. This is a church that is trying to reach into the community, but is failing to address the problems within the community adequately. The members and the lead pastor of the church is only really concerned with bums on seats on a Sunday for the most part of the film. The Pastor himself has shied away from challenging the clinic even when it was felt that he should have at some points. The church also says that it is pro-life but it seems more in a political position rather than a practical stance.

Thirdly, Jesse is not necessarily an example of all pro-life Christians. Certainly we see that the character is flawed throughout, so some of the measures that he takes involve violence, but this is also partly to do with his army training and his own state of mind.

This is an incredibly thorny issue and it's presented as one for all the main characters. It causes upset in the church and even between Jesse and his wife and we find out why this is a particularly difficult subject for them as the film progresses. The writer of this film does give us one heavily skewed understanding of the clinic. There is one scene where Jesse and the clinic manager have a brief emotionally charged exchange, but we really don't get the insight into the other side of the story which is a real shame, because this then does begin to feel a little bit one-sided with no chance of reasoned debate.

The cinematography seems to wander around a little bit with cut scenes that don't make a huge amount of sense. Early on as Jesse is finding his feet at the beginning of the film it seems to take an age. There are characters and a whole section in the soup kitchen that just doesn't really need to be there. The whole film has a look that is very washed out. Perhaps this is deliberate because of the seriousness of the topic being addressed, but it does make the who thing rather sombre.

The acting is OK throughout, it's a little stilted from some of the cast, but mostly it holds together quite well. Rusty Joiner does play Jesse Dixon quite convincingly throughout and is quite believable and I like his questioning about whether he is doing the right thing. I was less taken with Susan Moses character of Miss Elsie who has a bit of a dodgy accent and a strange story about her family history that gives Jesse courage to take a stand.

One final point is that given this subject it is a very male heavy film on the crew. The cast has a fair balance but writing and directing is by Pat Necerato and the producers are all male, and I guess ultimately this shows in the way everything happens, even down to the female characters that just don't quite ring true. Perhaps a woman's input in the creative process would have been a good idea.

This is a film that is, like it's main character, flawed. I don't think it's going to change minds much if you are pro-choice and pro-abortion, but it might just open up some discussion and debate about how we tackle the issue, but how do we help society and the women who have had abortions, and those that chose not to, to cope with the consequences of that choice.

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