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Virtuous is a beautifully written multi-plot story of Simone Burner (played by singer songwriter Brandy Allison) who is in court, being accused of murder. This is not your usual courtroom murder/drama themed film here. It takes the issue full on of standing firm in your convictions, doing the right thing as a woman in this world, and finding dignity and hope in restoration.
The film is monumental in mainly two ways. First, being a majority female cast. It’s natural that if you want to make a movie on issues relating to women, you’ll need many women. These days, some actresses have begun to speak out on this topic, and duly so, because a large majority of scripts call for male speaking parts. More specifically, women speaking roles make up only 30% of them, and 12% are women who play a central role as protagonist, according to a recent study at the Center of Study for Women in Television and Film. Which is really representative of a larger epidemic going on against women, an epidemic that is happening worldwide. We see women marginalized, silenced, shoved off to the side, and given tasks that are merely traditional to that given culture. Then there’s the abuse that goes on in the homes and workplace, that is fueled by a worldview that sees them somehow less than men. Which leads to the second way in which this film is monumental: it gives back dignity in the form of restoration. The film deals with women who have made choices, or are being pressed to make choices that are against their consciences and faith. Some women will be able to relate with Campbell Carter (played by Jessica Ore) who sees pressure to sleep with her boss as a way to success, and some may be able to relate with the others who have come from hard places, and are having an equally hard time getting out of them. Some of the characters have failed, and as the movie will teach, failure is not an identity that we take on, but an event that occurred in the timeline of our lives. Another event can take place, and that is restoration. It is in this beautiful place of restoration that dignity can be had once again, where it was once taken. In this movie key moments happened with the words of Ms. Charlotte, associated with the “Potters House”, a place where troubled women can find hope.
Virtuous not only has a great message, that is timely for this generation, but a dynamic cast as well. Erin Bethea from “Fireproof” stars as the Potters House graduate. From the film “Courageous” comes actress Angelita Nelson. Those who remember the highway motorcycle cop drama from the early 80’s, CHiPS, will remember Erik Estrada who plays Jack Evans, Simone’s attorney.
Virtuous is basically filmed as a court room drama, but there are various stories woven in throughout the film. Afghanistan where soldiers are being captured, the Potters House where troubled women find hope, and other places like the pulpit of a church or a newsroom studio. The places where offenses against women take place are as varied as the women themselves. Abuse happens in so many ways, but the way you respond is the subject of this movie.
The issues presented here have never been more urgent to tackle. With the objectification of women on the rise, a significant increase in single motherhood, and violence against women not going away any time soon, it would be in the best interest of humanity to view this wherever there are women congregating: in small groups, in churches, in book clubs, etc. We live in a day where Christian filmmakers are making films not just to view, but to watch, then discuss, and share. It’s just neat how in these later days we’ve seen an increase in this “curriculum” of film. What I mean is this pattern of going to see a film that presents a relevant and gripping issue (others being films like Fireproof or Courageous), and then there are resources to engage with. Follow-up books with leader-guides, ways to get your community or church involved in a study centered on a topic like this, and others. Long gone may the days be when we simply watch a film like this, and upright our reclined chairs as we groggily grab our remotes and say, “well, I wonder what’s next.”
The cinematography was appropriate for the topic at hand. James Burgess did a fantastic job at captivating the moments through the lens, and helped us feel the tension in court. Most actors did a superb job carrying their character. Most of all I love that a centerpiece for conversation like this was produced. It’s a topic we’ll need to revisit time and time again, so let awareness and hope be our paths forward.
Virtuous was released on June 2, 2015. Produced by JC Films and Tri-Rahn Pictures. Directed by Bill Rahn, and written by Jason Campbell and Tara Lynn Marcelle. The film, a drama, was given 7.1 out of 10 stars by IMDb, and a full 5 out of 5 doves by Dove.com. This film is unrated. The film has mild to no language (“butt”, “idiot” are among the words mentioned), no sex scenes, however rape is inferred in a scene, but nothing is shown, as well as a reference to prostitution. Gunshots are heard, and a room lights up from the shot, but only seen from outside. Soldiers are seen being taken captive in Afghanistan and blood is on their faces. A dead man is seen with blood on shirt in a morgue. There is mention of drugs, but none seen. Alcohol is present in a bar scene. This film may not be appropriate for children due to the inferred nature of some scenes. Parental guidance is recommended.
When a woman named Simone Burner is accused of murdering the man who assaulted her, she seeks out the help of attorney Jack Evans to show her Virtuous.