This is a gripping movie that nicely demonstrates the need to let the past go—so that a person can move forward. Starring Erik Scott Smith as Cotton Welles, the movie focuses on Cotton’s attempts to find a peaceful life after a disturbing past. Cotton was raised by a strong-willed woman named Mae (Lusia Strus), who was a traveling evangelist. She sings, preaches a fiery message, and misses Cotton being in her “show,” as he had a genuine gift to pray for the sick and to see them healed. However, as Cotton later tells her, the “collection plate” was the main thing to Mae, so he moved on.
Struggling with drinking, he attempts to forge a new life while working at Clay Peaks’ ranch. Clay (portrayed by Gary Cole) gives him a shot to work hard and to see what life might offer him on the ranch. Cotton hits it off with Clay’s younger daughter, Emily, as well as his older daughter, Max, short for Maxine. He and Max become romantically entwined.
As Cotton flourishes in his routine, and comes to enjoy his new life, he hears from the one person he regretted leaving behind—his sister Jeanie. Jeanie sincerely misses him but has been asked by their mother to coax him back into Mae’s evangelistic meetings. He also learns his dear sister is now confined to a wheelchair, due to an accident. He reluctantly attends one of his mother’s meetings but his mother is determined that he must return to his old life, being part of her crusades. He resists this idea—much to her chagrin.
Cotton continues to struggle between the memories of his old life while trying to set up a new one. He learns, while playing a guitar he finds at the ranch, that Clay too lost a lot, when his wife and son both died in an accident, the result of a drunk driver. An accident occurs involving the family dog, Harrison, and a miracle happens when Cotton prays for the dog.
This film contains solid acting, conflict, and dramatic tension. Mae continues to push for Cotton to return to her revival meetings but Cotton wants no part of what he considers to be his mother’s exploitations of innocent people. Cotton decides to propose to Max, who accepts, but his struggles are not over. When he attends one of his mother’s meetings, she refers to him as the “prodigal son” come home. Jeanie is wheeled up to him to pray for and she falls out of the chair. But she whispers to him that he is now “free” and he runs from the meeting. He later learns that she was indeed healed but wanted him free from Mae’s clutches.
On his wedding day to Max, Cotton receives a call he never wanted to receive. The news is tragic and his life will never be the same again. The viewer will have to watch to see how it all unfolds, but hope is powerfully offered in the story’s conclusion.
For anyone who has ever faced the difficulty of choosing a life that others—even family members—disagree with, this movie will hit home. It also nicely demonstrated that everyday miracles are often found in small situations and normal routines.
This movie is awarded our Dove-approved Seal for Ages 12+, due to thematic situations such as death and grief, and the plot of the mother to have her son return to her revival meetings for her own financial gain.
The movie offers hope that battles such as drinking too much can be conquered and that there are always people in life we can turn to. It also features some great songs such as Rock of Ages and the idea that God does bestow various gifts on people.
The Dove Take:
For anyone who has ever struggled or faced family conflict, this movie will speak to you in a profound way while offering hope.