I really enjoyed this kid friendly movie on our last family movie night. Coming out of PureFlix Studios, Birthright Outlaw (2023), by Affirm Films and directed by Aaron Burns, was fresh and engaging.
Elements of the story were relatable; especially the family tension; exciting, gunslinging and magical sets; and--dare I say it--romantic, with a touching husband and wife relationship plus an innocent young romance that ends in the ultimate sacrifice.
There were elements of humor, suspense, and fabulous cinematography which earned it a 4.5 out of 5 star rating from industriousfamily.com.
This Western takes place in the years following the American Civil War. In it towns are struggling to keep law and order and "either the church or the saloon make a town," as Sheriff Beauchamp (Tom Proctor) says.
Martha Rose Jacobs (Sarah Drew) holds strong opinions and is a good wife and mother. There is a hint of her dark past that makes her perhaps a little authoritarian in her daughter's eyes. Although she has forgiven herself and found forgiveness in the Lord she faces the cross of attaining the forgiveness of her husband for keeping the secret of her past from him.
Jeremiah Jacobs (Lucas Black) is a preacher with a pure heart. He took Martha Rose as his wife after finding her abandoned and with an infant whom he raises as his own. There is some mystery as to why the Jacobs' daughter is suddenly kidnapped but Martha knows exactly why. She also knows that she is going to have to tell the truth about her past if she is going to get her daughter back. For fifteen years Jeremiah didn't need the details of Martha's past but when the girl is kidnapped, he is hurt and angry that Martha didn't confide more in him.
Good prevails in this Western where faith and forgiveness win the day. Unfortunately this is where the movie falls flat. It was overexposed in the beginning with little surprise plot twists for the audience and of course we find forgiveness in our Lord but the forgiveness Martha Rose Jacobs finds in the Lord is a little too subtle for this Catholic viewer.
Catholics believe in sacramental forgiveness and we find peace and grace in that. The forgiveness she is seeking from her husband, Reverend Jeremiah Jacobs is more satisfying and relatable. The cute aspect of this film was Rose and Jeremiah's "second romance" as he learns how to trust her again resulting in him forgiving her and realizing that he still loves her.
Martha's father is the true villain of the story. William "King of Hearts" Bridges (Jeff Fahey) is more of a cult leader than an outlaw gang boss. His obsession of getting the "Queen of Hearts" back is both terrifying and disturbing.
The delusional existence he carved out for himself is another element the story that is never completely resolved. Perhaps he couldn't forgive himself or seek forgiveness in the Lord and this once preacher goes mad and embraces the ugly Calvinistic doctrine of predestination. He believes he is a son of perdition and will make his own heaven on earth while he has the chance. This is not disclosed in the movie but hinted at.
The story line didn't satisfy because it missed the mark. The half point was lost because the ideas about life and the world and my own life experiences didn't inspire anything. Which is okay, but I think they wanted there to be a take-away and there really wasn't.
But overall, the acting was really great! Sarah Drew was so believable and Jeff Fahey made a super creepy bad guy, but then, he does well in any role that he plays.