Relationships are messy. Whether it be the one between friends, siblings, or parent and child, our imperfect humanity often creates challenges and struggles between ourself and those closest to us. Sometimes it isn’t intentional – we grow comfortable with one another so we talk a little more harshly and our emotions may be more at the ready. Other times it is by choice – we go looking for a fight or we choose our wants over another’s needs. Motivations aside, there will always be opportunity for conflict. But there is also the opportunity for healing should we go looking for it.
In The Man From Nowhere from writers Chris Dowling and Matt Green, we have front row seats to both the complication and restoration of a broken relationship. For years, high-profile lawyer Jake (played by Seth Bowling) kept his father at arm’s-length. A bestselling author, Herb (played by Nick Searcy), was never around much for Jake, often running off somewhere to write or promote his newest book. Without the grounding of an authentic father-son relationship, Jake has thrown himself into a lifestyle of selfishness, alcoholism, and very little grace or mercy for the people he works with. When his drinking spirals out of control, his law partners force him into a decision: take time off and get right, or resign and move on.
As Jake reluctantly agrees to some time off, Herb shows up on his doorstep – literally – so that he may work to restore their broken relationship while he has just a few months left with cancer. Herb is so driven for reconciliation that his final book was written specifically for Jake. And as Jake journeys through the story of another father searching for his son, he opens his eyes to the changed heart of his own father.
Herb’s motivation for reconnecting with Jake isn’t just about a wayward father returning home to his son. His larger goal is to show Jake how there is another Father – one who is perfect and good and full of grace and love for him. Herb knows he messed up, and that he did wrong by Jake. But he isn’t going to stop there. Whether it is through his book or the stories of old veteran friends and experiences, Herb regularly points Jake to the God that is waiting to embrace him.
I enjoyed the “story within a story” format, and the tension between Jake and Herb was quite palpable and authentic. What I wasn’t expecting was how this film struck a chord within my own heart. Too often I make the mistake of keeping a record of wrongs, and can justify my actions toward others based on how I grew up or as a result of complicated relationships. And that can totally be valid in a lot of ways. But as I watched Jake humble himself to the humbling of his father, I was reminded of the responsibility I have to own how I live into my relationships. Jake had every right to be mad, but as he hears about both this earthly and heavenly love, he chooses NOT to stay embroiled in bitterness and resentment. And in opening himself to Herb, he throws open the gates so that God can walk right in. It’s a reminder I needed. And it’s one we can all take with us through this film.
For more on the film, check out www.manfromnowheremovie.com, available now!