I smiled just about all through The Peanut Butter Falcon, a pleasant new indie movie that earns each adjective you would possibly hear folks ascribe to it: “heartwarming,” “life-affirming,” “feel-good,” and so forth. It is a uncommon films that’s honest, joyous, and un-cynical, but in addition artfully made. It’s not low cost or tacky. In darkish and anxious instances, we want extra movies like this. They provide audacious however mandatory visions of hope, “what if?” fantasies that bridge what’s and what should be.
I don’t know whether or not the filmmakers (Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz) are Christians, however Falcon looks like a mannequin for what a top quality faith-based movie may appear like. The 98-minute film has a assured grasp of goodness, a superbly compassionate and dignifying manner of its characters, and an infectious pleasure grounded in its observations in regards to the dynamics of friendship and household—observations that led me to ponder God and reward him.
Impressed by Huckleberry Finn, Southern Gothic fiction, and paying homage to boys-on-the-run movies by David Gordon Inexperienced (particularly Undertow) and Jeff Nichols (particularly Mud), Falcon is an journey story the place innocence and sin, play and hazard usually intersect. However greater than something, Falcon is a narrative about household.
On this case it’s “family” within the discovered sense, as circumstances deliver three very completely different folks collectively to kind unlikely however stunning bonds that, because the movie progresses, tackle a extra family-like form. Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) is a troubled fisherman on the run from dangerous guys whose tools he destroyed. Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome, who within the opening scenes escapes from the retirement house the place he lives. Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) takes care of Zak on the house and spends the film looking for him on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Every of those three has wounds from their household previous. Tyler misplaced a brother in an car accident. Zak’s mother and father deserted him. Eleanor is a widow. When the three finally grow to be mates and coalesce as a wholesome, functioning (if messy) household unit (“friends are the family you choose,” considered one of them factors out), you’ll be able to virtually see their scars start to heal.
Such is the restorative nature of household when it capabilities because it ought to.
Movies like this provide audacious however mandatory visions of hope—‘what if?’ fantasies that bridge what’s and what should be.
Delighting in Familial Love
What Falcon has to say about friendship and household isn’t narrated however embodied—via the postures and facial expressions of the actors, via scenes of rope swinging, working towards secret handshakes, Tyler instructing Zak to swim, working towards wrestling strikes, and so forth. Nice movies create house for characters to easily be with each other. These moments could not serve environment friendly storytelling functions, however they’re usually the place the magic occurs. And these magical moments are plentiful in Falcon.
It’s a pleasure to look at Zak and Tyler start to belief each other, serve and sacrifice for each other, lean on and simply get pleasure from each other. A wordless scene of the 2 sitting facet by facet, looking on the sea after a outstanding baptism scene (actually: Zak will get baptized halfway via the movie), introduced me to tears. Likewise, I used to be moved by a scene the place Tyler speaks a fact over Zak that few in his life have uttered: “You are strong.” Zak responds by talking phrases over Tyler that he’s additionally not often heard: “You are a good guy.” On this interchange we see the facility of friendship to name us out of previous identities and spur us on into newness and progress.
When Eleanor enters the image and the duo turns into a trio, the two-way delight and care between Zak and Tyler turns into a three-way dynamic of familial love. Every member of the trio has their very own id; every pair has their very own dynamic. Eleanor and Tyler develop a romantic love, and a parental relationship of kinds with Zak. Tyler and Zak have a father-son dynamic but in addition a cohesion. Eleanor is each a mom and an older sister to Zak. In all of it, everybody delights within the different.
Does it generally really feel a bit like a too-perfect fairy story? Sure. However that’s the purpose. In our age of damaged households, relational fragmentation, rising loneliness, and dehumanizing rhetoric, we desperately want artwork to do greater than wallow in ache and cynicism about what’s dangerous. We’d like artwork to provide us engaging footage of what’s good and remind us why it’s value combating for. And there are few larger items than the household.
We’d like artwork to do greater than wallow in ache and cynicism about what’s dangerous. We’d like artwork to provide us engaging footage of what’s good and remind us why it’s value combating for.
Notes in a Chord
Final week on the seashore with my spouse and 1-year-old son, I had a kind of moments of pleasure that looks like a caress of God. I watched my spouse and son smile and snigger at one another, delighting in one another. I watched my son crawl over to me, pulling himself as much as my lap, smiling from ear to ear when he caught my eye. I delighted in his enjoyment of me, and vice versa. I delighted in my spouse, and the way she and her child (and she or he and I) enjoyment of one another. And I questioned if perhaps God created the household unit, partially, to provide his creation slightly glimpse of their Creator’s wonderful triune nature. I considered this as I watched Falcon’s central trio of their expressions of mutual care and delight. The enjoyment of watching them love each other felt like the enjoyment I skilled on the seashore—a pleasure downstream from a distant headwater, a faint echo of some thunderous heavenly symphony.
In his e-book Traces of the Trinity, Peter Leithart explores the ways in which trinitarian theology illuminates our world, from household to intercourse to musical chords. He writes: “Christians imagine that the triune God created the world, and that ought to have some implications for the sort of world that it’s.”
This was in my thoughts as I thought of why the mutual love on show in Falcon was so soul-satisfying. Possibly we resonate with these tales not solely as a result of they remind us what’s attainable within the wonderful good of a household, however as a result of they glimpse the infinitely extra wonderful Good of God, whose very being is a “triune fellowship of love” inside what Fred Sanders calls “the happy land of the Trinity.” Sanders says, “This is what the doctrine of the Trinity helps us learn with greater precision: that God is love. The triune God is a love that is infinitely high above you, eternally preceding you, and welcoming you in.”
We’re “welcomed in” to this divine love solely by means of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross (Heb. 10:19–23)—an necessary theological fact that, to make sure, films like Falcon don’t spell out. However to the extent that they shine a highlight on the fantastic thing about household and on wholesome, interdependent love between people—whom God created to picture himself (Gen. 1:27)—they’re common-grace notes that be a part of creation’s bigger chords of reward.