Over the Rhine
A widowed woman’s only son is killed by an opiate-addicted driver. Her grief turns to rage when the court system fails her, and desperately seeking justice, she begins to stalk him. What happens next, neither of them could ever have imagined.
This is a powerful film and a God-honoring story steeped in Catholic tradition and core tenets of a Christian faith. Viewers need to be aware of the cautions that cause the 18+ seal.After losing her son to an intoxicated driver, Ingrid, suffering and tearing from the inside, brings to mind more than just the conflict of whether to forgive or not. Empathy and apathy collide on an even greater scale in Mitch Teemley’s Over-the-Rhine, a film that shares an understanding of valid grief, both from a parent’s and perpetrator’s perspective, and slow, gentle healing. The film manages to extract pure, Christlike love in the face of one of life’s greatest difficulties. Over-the-Rhine is mostly character-driven between Ingrid (Christine Jones) and Alec (Rupert Spraul), the young man who took the life of Ingrid’s son. Michael Wilhelm, who plays a priest, adds touches of levity and relief to the heavy, aching subject matter. There is also a nice supporting cast acting around these principal characters; the effect we see is a sort of community that’s also broken down by Ingrid’s loss. Teemley is able to zero in on how crime (and punishment, too) is never a selfish act. It touches the lives of so many more than one can imagine. Still, the film is built mostly around the performances of Ingrid and Alec. Spraul does a good job of peeling back Alec’s layers at a slow, labored pace. Jones, and perhaps the character of Ingrid as well, gets to explore the rage that subsides into peace, but the transitions do not always prove naturalistic, making her character’s yelling and crying and ultimate welcoming of Alec seem inconsistent. Some, however, will understand and appreciate the ability to shift through different emotions per scene, which may be seen as a dynamic range of acting. Over-the-Rhine delves into the toughest of topics head-on, and not always with great sensitivity, but doubtlessly with heart and courage to show that forgiveness in any circumstance is possible. Alec, prior to his faith story, uses a lot of swear words, as does Ingrid in her frustration, but the film has strong faith-based content, earning it the Dove-Approved Seal for 18+.