Royal Ashes is a sometimes-gritty look at the repercussions of addiction in the lives of innocent people and highlights the grace of God in the most challenging of times. The focus, commitment, and love exhibited by main characters is gripping, as we go on a rollercoaster ride with the Royal family.
When Paul Royal (Luke Sage) encounters his new neighbor Jenny (Ariane Ireland), he never imagined his world would be turned upside down. Caring for everyone else in his life but himself, Paul is feeling the pressures of adulthood, as he nurtures his four siblings daily by himself, while planning his escape to a life of adventure and sanity when the time is right. The kids carry this entire film, as their addicted mother and absent father are nowhere to be found. Consequently, every burden falls on Paul, as he is seen working, managing meals, caring for physical and emotional needs, disciplining, setting boundaries, and worrying about his siblings’ overall survival. Barely holding it all together, when the car gets repossessed and the mortgage is threatened, his new friend, Jenny, helps to lighten the load.
When secrets are revealed, and shocking events take place, people, in all their imperfections, display heroism, and doors open that shine God’s light on these challenging situations. Sub-plots abound, as a younger brother struggles with the loss of their dad; Jenny experiences an emotional ordeal with her own father; and a loving pastor appears to help meet needs. Moreover, larger than life sacrifices are made by some of the most unlikely characters to help keep this family together when social services threatens to intervene.
There are also much needed lighter moments when teen brother Kevin (Joseph Stam), who struggles with being on the spectrum, adds endearing humor at deeply emotional times, and Ariane Ireland is a breath of fresh air throughout, in her innocent and honest portrayal of a recovering-addict-turned-Christian, who is willing to make life-altering choices by listening to the voice of God. There are, likewise, pivotal scenes where she discusses the love and grace of God with Paul, whose transformation throughout the film is palpable, as his situation becomes increasingly desperate.
The performances overall are authentic and at times heart-wrenching, as the perseverance and character shown by these young people, in their effort to survive and stay together, is enough to inspire any viewer. It merits our Dove-approved Seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take
Royal Ashes brings to life the Biblical idea that beauty can stem from situations that appear to be hopeless.