This film is based on the true events of March 12, 2005 and Ashley Smith’s book Unlikely Angel. Smith, played by Kate Mara (House of Cards), is a waitress and mom living in Atlanta, and is close to losing her young daughter as a result of her drug addiction. In fact, daughter Paige lives with Ashley’s aunt, played by Mimi Rogers.
Ashley is a widow, her husband having been murdered by a drug dealer. We see her attending a Celebrate Recovery meeting and a friend giving her a copy of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. The book will play a key role in this story.
Brian Nichols is played by David Oyelowo, who was robbed of an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of MLK in Selma. Brian is about to be sentenced for rape, but escapes from a courthouse jail and kills four people while the Atlanta police pursue him throughout the city.
When Smith decides to go to her car looking for cigarettes at 2:30 am, Nichols grabs her, leading her back into her apartment. The rest of the film is about their relationship, which begins with Nichols throwing her around, taping her up, and using the meth that Ashley had in the apartment.
The film is directed by 80-year old Jerry Jameson, who has a long history of directing, including episodes of The Mod Squad television series in 1969-1972. It is the story of two broken people who have an unlikely encounter and their interactions. I wouldn’t consider this a “Christian film”. Ashley reads to Nichols from the book The Purpose Driven Life, and that’s pretty much the extent of the faith-based aspect, short of an interview with the real Smith and Rick Warren by Oprah Winfrey as the credits roll.
The acting performances from Oyelowo and Mara were solid, but the script didn’t give them a lot to work with. The film was also dreadfully slow. Overall, we were disappointed with this film, especially after having seen Oyelowo’s strong performance in Selma.