It’s Valentine’s Day weekend and you’re so excited to see the latest romantic movie! Should you see the much-anticipated porno so graphic the female lead doesn’t want her parents to see it? And whose male lead felt so dirty while researching his part that he had to shower before touching his wife and children?
Or do you see Old Fashioned, a new romantic film you will not only want to share with your spouse, but with your teenage children, too? And probably own and rewatch several times?
I previewed Old Fashioned about a month ago, and am recommending that every Christian–indeed, every person who still believes in true love–to see it in theaters as soon as possible. (Visit this link for theaters and tickets.) The movie tells the story of Clay Walsh (Rik Swartzwelder), a former frat boy once infamous for his reckless and sex-drenched carousing. Having now given his life to God, Clay spends his days running an antique shop in a small Midwestern town, where he notoriously shares his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance with anyone who will listen.
Then Amber Hewson (Elizabeth Ann Roberts) drifts into town and rents the apartment above Clay’s shop. This free-spirited young woman with a restless soul finds herself surprisingly intrigued by her new landlord’s faith and noble ideas–and by him. And though Clay tries to fight his own attraction to Amber, he can’t help but be drawn to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life.
As Clay learns, though, there’s a world of difference between avoiding sexual sin in theory…and actually living God’s glorious plan of chastity out with a beautiful, flesh-and-blood woman before you. Amber, too, must overcome her fears and old habits of relating to men. Together, Clay and Amber attempt the impossible: an “old-fashioned” and God-honoring courtship in contemporary America.
I love wholesome movies, but far too many “Christian”-themed films fall prey to sounding forced and preachy. The Christians tend to be whitewashed, too, along with their minor, often inconsequential problems. And God knows they never have existential crises of faith! The result is usually a film that preaches to the choir (and even then, not too effectively). And that is so self-consciously overbearing that it comes across as condescending and off-putting to non-Christians.
I was pleased that Old Fashioned avoided these pitfalls. While Clay can sound preachy at times when he shares his romantic wisdom with Amber and friends, you can’t help but sense that this avowed Christian is deeply flawed and trying to save himself more than anyone else. Swartzwelder brilliantly presents an honorable yet deeply lonely man, whose faith hasn’t lessened the guilt he still bears over sexually abusing women in his youth. Like so many of us, Clay yearns for love, but has to be convinced he deserves it.
Roberts is absolutely luminous in her role as Amber. Deeply wounded by her past relationships, Amber nonetheless has a joie de vivre and spiritual openness about her that makes her interest in Clay and his faith entirely believable. That’s one of the best things about Old Fashioned, in fact: the characters are entirely credible. No plastic, one-dimensional caricatures here. I like, too, that supporting roles are comprised mostly of likable, authentic characters who are on their own spiritual journey, just as Clay and Amber are.
Old Fashioned isn’t your typical Hollywood fare. The couple doesn’t have sex or even make out. There are no whips and chains, unless you count the sins and wounds that make Clay and Amber so convincing as people and as a couple. Love is patient, love is kind…love is Old Fashioned. Go see it while it’s in theaters–and send a message to Hollywood that true chivalry–and true love–are making a comeback!