This love story has the heart swells of The Notebook, the unexpected twists of a Nicholas Sparks novel, and the anguish of The Fault in Our Stars: The proof is your depleted tissue box. What elevates I Still Believe is that it's true. If it weren't, it would be too sappy and overwrought to accept as reality. But Camp has been telling this story at concerts for years, and the events really did happen to him and his first wife, Melissa. Most of the story takes place at the Orange County Bible college that Jeremy and Melissa attended, and there's not a shady character here: These kids do the right thing, strive to make good choices, and are all-around great role models. There is a moment in which their actions are hurtful to someone -- and you'll definitely want to talk with kids about what might have been a better way to handle it -- but it's easy to appreciate that at least their hearts were in the right place. Yes, Jeremy and Melissa may be too good to be true (and, really, who would begrudge them perfection?), but they're just the kind of people most parents would like their kids to spend time with.
This is a full-fledged faith-based film, and it's a victory for the Christian creative community. A tragic, young adult, music-centered biopic romance is a brilliant approach: I Still Believe mixes A Walk to Remember with Rocketman. And kudos to directors Andrew and Jon Erwin for having the self-restraint to not make the movie about Camp's rising-star status, instead, letting that occur subtly in the background. The film is beautifully shot -- if only we could all live in a world lit by cinematographer Kristopher Kimlin. From characters luxuriating in a sun-drenched room to a smoky haze beaming through the window, Kimlin may have invented a "God" filter. Apa and Robertson are marvelous together, and co-star Gary Sinise exhibits a natural ease. While the script could use some punching up, overall, it's on par with most romance movies. And sure, there are a couple of things that a cynic could take shots at, but considering the squeaky clean story, admirable characters, and positive approach to some of life's most difficult moments, parents may think their prayers have been answered.