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Sound of Freedom: Can a Film be Too' Emotional?'

Child trafficking is a topic that warrants the emotional strain that comes with it. It's a lightly brushed topic in the course of most forms of media, because it may hit the heart way too hard. Horror, fantasy, drama, romance, and all other types of genres involve a lot of elements that takes us out of our reality and gives us a mental break. Movies like Sound of Freedom push reality back in our faces.

For those who aren't aware of the movie's plot, it is based on a true story, with real life clips and footage of some of the events that took place. It stars Jim Caviezel as Tim Ballard, who is a homeland security agent, and quits his job to help rescue children. The film tastefully pulls at your heart and soul as it tackles this taboo subject, and it gives a decent amount of action and gives you a good bittersweet sense of justice by the film's conclusion. Right off the bat before I go into further discussion, I give this film a 10/10, must see rating. This movie, however, does rise a lot of internal debate on how to judge this film, and even films going forward. It was difficult to find fault in this film, with a few minor details in direction that could've been reworked. For instance, there is a scene where the main character is in public talking about details of a planned child trafficking ring honeypot with crowds of people walking by. One of the biggest points of internal debate for myself as the viewer is the first hour of the film there is rarely any opportunity to 'breathe' with the waves of emotional baggage. One side of me wanted at least a 15 minute reprieve to emotionally process everything that happened. Even when the film solely implied these criminal acts without showing any of it explicitly, I couldn't count the amount of times I had to avert my eyes or hold my stomach at these scenes. There was so much frustration, anger, depression, and a lingering sense of helplessness that stuck with me, for the entire first hour non-stop. This was an issue to me not only because I wanted a moment to process the events that occurred, but also to better examine and critique the scenes and the story. Even while writing this piece it still feels as if my judgement is clouded by all the emotional strain. The other part of me thinks this was necessary for the film. Not only does the emotional tugging serve the payoff in the end, it also serves the film's higher purpose of inspiring action in its viewers. Any changes to the scenes would risk the film from falling short. (All of this comes from someone who is yet to be a father, so I can only imagine how a parent must feel watching this piece.) The only other form of critique I can offer is in Jim's performance, particularly with his facial expressions. However this too is an internal debate. On one hand, his face remains stoic, even when he sheds tears at some of the most heart wrenching scenes his character is witnessed to. I would have loved to see a furrowing of the brow, a wince, a glimpse of anger, a gnawing at the teeth, anything really. Again, I also feel his stoic face could arguably play in favor of his character. A core masculine trait is to not let emotions take control over you. This tenant is seen in Jim's character as he struggles, but narrowly succeeds at holding back emotional outbursts. It also serves in his duty. Finding and rescuing trafficked children would be incredibly taxing on ones emotions, and for someone to succeed, they would be forced to put aside their emotions to accomplish the mission. I feel deeply for Tim Ballard who had his heart shatter while performing these dangerous operations, but having no outlet to fully express his pain; he is only allowed to bottle it up to the point where the tears slip out regardless. Any slip up, any emotional outburst could put the children in further danger. Even so, wouldn't it have been better for Tim Ballard to show just a slight touch more emotion with his facial expressions? I still lean towards the opinion that this slight change in direction would have enhanced the experience, though I could see how difficult such a fine line would be to cross. So what is the best way to judge a film? Can a film evoke too much emotion, or is the evocation of emotion what makes a film a masterpiece? How does one determine if a film is objectively good if emotions are too heightened? Sound of Freedom highlights these questions, as well as highlights the importance of the movie theatre. The movie industry crashed in 2020 at the height of the COVID lockdowns. Now that the pandemic is over, the movie industry has been climbing back to new heights. You can't pause a film in a theatre, and if you leave to use the restroom you'll miss out heavily on the experience. Because you have to sit through a film in its entirety without breaks, it gives you a much different experience as opposed to being at home. If I watched this movie at home I would likely have many different opinions and emotions. Sound of Freedom is a very important film to watch, and it has been a miraculous example of counter-Hollywood filmmaking. It has exceeded the box office of Indiana Jones, and has been grossing higher weeks after its initial release. It's box office struck higher the third weekend it was released than the first. Help bring this movie to everyone's eyes. Be sure to go see it in theatres, or consider paying it forward by going to this link: https://www.angel.com/pay-it-forward/sound-of-freedom#



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