Drama / Christian
1999 / 84 minutes
John and Ellen Brighton are a 50-something couple living a blessed life. They have two children, one grown-up son, just heading to college, and a daughter finishing off high school. John runs a successful business, and Ellen is a much-loved elementary teacher. The only turmoil in their life comes from John’s brother and business partner Phil, who has never settled down, and seemingly has a new live-in girlfriend every month.
But then Ellen faints, and the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s, and their trouble-free life is falling apart.
This is an explicitly Christian film, and a cut above most such movies. It was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and they did it right, with talented actors, and solid cinematography. And the script here is realistic enough that I thought it might be a true story.
Ellen has to struggle with confusion, and the anticipation of all she’ll lose, but as dementia takes over, John faces a very different battle: the burden of so many responsibilities, increased in now caring for his wife, and doubled in that he no longer has her to help him with his family responsibilities. His business starts to suffer, and John needs someone he can talk to. He finds that in a woman he meets while he’s out jogging, who is a willing ear… but not a great idea for a confidante for a married man.
This interaction with another woman doesn’t go far, but it does go on for a while. That, and the emotional ups and downs make this one too much for younger audiences. Because this was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, there are a few whispers of Arminianism, but it’s nothing substantial.
The film begins with a scene years earlier, when John and Ellen’s grown son was just a boy, and his appendix had burst. John prays and believes his prayer is answered when the child recovers. But when his young wife is swiftly struck with Alzheimer’s and soon cannot even recognize him, does it mean that God is no longer listening to John’s prayers? And what exactly does it mean to vow to be with someone “until death do you part” in health, and in sickness? Those are questions to bring to God even now, in the good times. That’s what makes this a film that every couple should watch together.
You can watch it for free online, but you’ll have to follow this link to see it on YouTube.
I’ve included the trailer below, but at 3 minutes long, it really hits a lot of the key plot points, so you may not want to watch it.
And for a wonderful true story about a husband and wife struggling with Alzheimer’s, you’ll want to check out Robertson McQuilkin’s biography: A Promise Kept: the Story of an Unforgettable Love.