A trilogy of stories revolving around faith come up short in displaying the power of love as a D.J. reaches out to a cynical fan base in director Tyler Maddox Simms' "The Power of Love."
The film opens to a lengthy (and somewhat rambling) spoken word session by Wood Harris (The Wire). Using a spoken word (even as convincingly as Harris) to open a film is nothing new, but it easily pushes the law of diminishing returns here. D.J. Drizz (Andre Truth) takes over the broadcast as the lyrical Harris is sent on his way, soon to be replaced by self-help author and love guru, PJ Payton (Vivica Fox) and the story kicks into gear.
The first caller is Blue (Malik Barnhardt), who talks about his journey to Christ by way of a nearly lethal encounter with his girlfriend Alexis (Vanessa Bednar). Not only does the film miss the mark in presenting a decent story on religion delivering one from immoral ways, but then decides to make fun of mental illness in the process. Bednar does her best to save the piece as the ex who can't take no for an answer, but her acting talent is just as wasted as Joe Torry's humor here.
Vivica is sent on her way as Simms' herself takes the acting spotlight in the second call as she tells her story of a former singer who fights off despair as her family is falling apart. Any sympathy you have for her character of Kate easily disappears with her stiff portrayal as an emotionally abused wife and mother. Despite her religious epiphany, Simms never shows enough emotion in her character for the audience to care. Even in triumph, Kate seems to be passive aggressive.
The final story in the trilogy comes as Drizz is replaced by the DJ known as Preacher (Darius Love), who tells his story of love and forgiveness. In easily the meatier of the three stories, Love gives dimension to his impassioned journey sorely lacking in the first two as the ex-con who faces life on the outside as time has seemingly passed him by.
Director Tyler Maddox-Simms is accomplished in her own right, but "The Power of Love" was poorly executed from the most important level, that of the story. Men are reduced to one-dimensional criminals or sex fiends who can't help themselves, no matter the circumstance. It takes some kind of tragedy to bring them to Christianity. It's man-bashing at it's finest unfortunately. The women are all virtuous victims who ultimately come to rely on Christ, because men disappoint them on a constant basis.
There's no crime in a faith-based agenda, but to replace sermonizing with meaningful dialogue is painful to watch. The film's inability or reluctance to allow their characters any kind of passion in or out of a bedroom removes any power behind the characters religious conviction.
"The Power of Love" MPAA: Not Rated. Running time: 80 minutes. On DVD and VOD