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LETTERS TO DANIEL (2020)

"Positive Messages, Lackluster Execution"

Content: -1 Discretion advised for older children.
Production:
NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

What You Need To Know:

LETTERS TO DANIEL is based on an autobiographical memoir. A young woman named Amy moves to Austin, Texas in 1999. She hopes to start production on a movie with her friend, Missy. Their finances are low, which leads to many struggles, including problems in their friendship. Making matters worse, Amy has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Amy writes letters to British actor Daniel Craig about her struggles, which helps her cope them.

LETTERS TO DANIEL is a very personal account of what it’s like to grapple with mental health issues. However, the movie’s presentation is lackluster. For example, the dialogue is sometimes hard to hear. LETTERS TO DANIEL has a strong moral worldview with overt Christian content. It promotes kindness and helping friends. Also, forgiveness is extolled, the protagonist’s grandmother is a God-fearing Christian, and references to church and Scripture occur. That said, the protagonist mentions her belief in the Universe rather than God, although the Christian influences around her give her a hopeful attitude. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children for some heated arguments and brief foul language in LETTERS TO DANIEL.

Content:

(BB, CC, FR, LL, V, M): Strong Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements: Strong moral worldview, with some strong, overt, positive Christian elements, about coping with bi-polar disorder, sticking by one another through thick and thin, forgiveness is extolled, protagonist’s grandmother is a God-fearing Christian, there’s a Christian funeral in a church, there’s a mention of God resting on the Sabbath, Christian music plays over the end credits, and kindness to strangers is extolled, but protagonist makes a comment about relying on “the Universe” instead of God

Foul Language:
Eight mostly light obscenities (including one “f” word and one “s” word) and five light OMG

Violence:
Light violence when woman breaks a glass in a moment of frustration, and woman with bi-polar disorder makes a death threat but apologizes quickly afterwards

Sex:
No sex scenes or sexual immorality, but a doctor asks a patient is she’s sexually active, and she says “no,” and a dating couple kisses on the mouth

Nudity:
No nudity

Alcohol Use:
No alcohol use, but doctor asks a patient if she abuses alcohol, and she says no

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking or illegal drug use or abuse, but a doctor prescribes some anti-depressants to a patient with bi-polar disorder; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Dysfunctional family portrayals, some rudeness and a character says, “Get off the cross; someone needs the wood.”

More Detail:

LETTERS TO DANIEL follows aspiring filmmakers, Amy and Missy who move from Kentucky to Texas to make a movie. Once they get to Texas, reality thwarts their expectations. They cast three people in their movie, but it doesn’t go into production. The duo feels like they’re chasing a pipe dream and having trouble literally making ends meet. To top it off, Amy struggles with a slew of health issues like insomnia.

As Amy goes through various highs and lows in her life, she writes letters to the 007 actor Daniel Craig (SKYFALL, QUANTUM OF SOLACE) that detail the events of her recent days. In writing to Craig, Amy can verbalize her emotions with her expectations what’s come to pass in her life and friendship with Missy.

Amy’s parents are less than supportive of her dreams to become a writer but that doesn’t stop her from putting in the work and doing her best to combat health struggles. Missy is a real blessing to Amy, even when some of Amy’s comments are terse and out of line. At the end of the day, they’re all one another has, and it’s enough. For example, when Missy’s father dies, Amy goes to the service to show her support, but Missy encourages Amy that the best way she can help Missy through her grief is to focus on her health.

What will become of Amy’s dreams and health? Will Missy and Amy be able to weather the storms of life with ease in the future?

Based on the memoir with the same title by Amy McCorkle, LETTERS TO DANIEL is told in chapters as filmmakers flash the chapters across the screen with a brief description of the actions to come. In this, it’s easy to track with the timeline. However, there are a few goofs. For instance, many parts of the movie are set in 1999, but movies from 2019 posts like THE LAST SHOT and AVENGERS: ENDGAME are displayed behind the actors in a movie theater in one scene. Also, the sound in the movie is here and there. The voiceover narration is done well, but the scenes in between can be hard to hear.

That said, LETTERS TO DANIEL is a very personal account of what it’s like to grapple with mental health struggles, specifically bi-polar disorder. Although the movie lacks the polish of traditional Hollywood, the themes of friendship and the need for a creative outlet are sobering.

On that note, LETTERS TO DANIEL has a strong moral worldview with some positive, overt Christian elements. For example, the two leads have a strong friendship where they apologize after wrongdoing and stick together through many struggles, just like a family would. The end credits have a Christian track playing. Also, the protagonist’s grandmother is a strong Christian who doesn’t shy away from her beliefs. In addition, a funeral is set in a church, and a comment is made about God resting on the Sabbath. That said, the protagonist mentions her belief in the Universe rather than God, but has Christian influences around her that inspire her to look at the bright side of life. The real-life protagonist in the story, however, reportedly has grown in her faith in Jesus and her church community exponentially since the writing of this movie. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children for some heated arguments and two strong obscenities plus other foul language in LETTERS TO DANIEL.