Nathaniel (Nathan Wong), a Filipino Aussie has nowhere to go when his mother refuses to let him come home to a very abusive stepfather. Rejected and dejected, he continues to walk the unforgiving streets, begrudgingly familiar with food lines, trash bins and fellow homeless people. Fortuitously, two college-aged girls, Rachel (Angelika Martin) and her roommate Emily (Lauren Martin), come upon Nathaniel. We quickly see Rachel is the more concerned of the two. Emily rolls her eyes when Rachel invites him to lunch, where he tells them that if he had a choice he would study to be a doctor. By this time Emily has exited stage left and Rachel invites him to dive into all her daily errands. She offers him the couch for a few nights, a shower and food. She introduces him to Mark (Scott Jay), Rachel’s church friend and manager for a direct marketing firm, where Nathaniel is offered a job stuffing mailboxes. This marks the commencement of a new life for him.
Nathaniel is informed that work is available every day but Saturday, which is reserved for church. No detail is offered, but we suspect they could be Jehovah’s Witness. As Nathaniel and Rachel traverse the sidewalks together, the conversation eventually turns to God. Nathaniel is skeptic about the existence of God; Rachel is nonjudgmental and invites him to church on Saturday morning. A little kindness goes a long way, and Rachel is known to live for helping others. From planning beach outings for her friends to taking in homeless individuals, Rachel is a very special person to those who know her.
‘Church’ on Saturday morning Is more of a social get-together than a church service, and focuses on showing love and acceptance to challenged people. While serving in the breakfast line, Nathaniel takes notice of Rachel’s life of giving and attempts to connect her faith with her god. Rachel tells him true charitable works are what it means to believe in God and acknowledges that God is very important to her.
Eventually, the film follows Nathaniel to a suit and tie wearing life, and restored relationship with his mother. His story and friendship with Rachel fades too quickly, being replaced with Emily’s story, for whom Rachel faithfully prays. Like so many people, Emily is not happy with her life, and even with Rachel’s encouragement, she believes she can’t become a compassionate giver which, according to Rachel, is the way to God.
Everything I Am is not a Christian film, although the producers have labeled it so. The word ‘Christian’ is used a few times, but there is absolutely no mention of Jesus Christ, the Word, the Gospel or Christian doctrine. And (spoiler alert) that is why Emily and Nathaniel remain unconnected to Christ. However, Christianity teaches that good works naturally bloom out of a personal relationship and faith in Christ. It is the only religion in which God, through His own Grace, reaches down and picks us up. He doesn’t require we attempt a slippery slope to Him.
Production-wise, Everything I Am offers a calm, slice-of-life film which is easy to watch, especially those scenes of ‘charitable works’. The pace is slow and a little undercut but the fine cinematography carries it nicely. The end of the film seems premature, a few threads dangling. Some interiors are a little austere, probably victim of the budget. However, the four featured actors do an outstanding job of maintaining the many oneon-one scenes, which could easily capsize with less experienced actors. I’m always hesitant to approve a film when a false doctrine is consciously stated, but the message of helping others can be celebrated in its own nutshell. With parental discussion, the film could help kids to better understand Christian doctrine. Dove awards Everything I Am the All Ages Seal of Approval.
The Dove Take
Wrestling with their unhappy lives, two young people, Nathaniel and Emily are taken underwing by Rachel, who shows them remarkable and irreversible kindness.