For the Love of a Child (2006)
The Power of Love
"For the Love of a Child" is the sort of movie which if I was still purely a fan of movies would rate highly because of the powerful story as it has got a tremendous storyline surrounding Childhelp and how it came to be whilst also showing us what they do with a case of an abused child. But as a movie reviewer I have to take other things in to consideration and whilst the story moved me more than most movies have the movie itself, the look, the flow, the acting lets it down. It is a shame because all those things which I mentioned are not consistently bad, there are some powerful performances especially from the children but then there will be some corny moments of acting which spoil it.
So to explain "For the Love of a Child" what we have is a storyline in the now which focuses on the work of Childhelp the lead in to this is a call from a frightened little boy called Jacob who is being beaten by his father. We watch how the team at Childhelp help him, rescue him from his home, take him to one of their special safe villages and so on. Now all of this is extremely moving as we see various aspects of abuse, the burn marks all over Jacob, the cuts on another child in the village that she suffered from a cruel parent and so on. There is a whole lot more, too much to mention but it opens your eyes to child abuse, what these children went through, how it affects them, the signs that a child may be being abused as well as the help that Childhelp gives them.
But at the same time the story takes us back to 1959 via frequent flashbacks to Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson performing for the troops in Tokyo and how they came across a group of orphaned children sheltering from a storm in a street. We learn how they tried to find them somewhere to live which was not easy because of being mix raced and how whilst performing for troops they asked for donations to help these children and the woman they found to look after them. This all leads to them setting up Childhelp and how it grew into a major organization.
Now there is no denying that "For the Love of a Child" is moving, it is one of the most hard hitting movies about child abuse I have ever seen and there are countless scenes which make you feel sick, from witnessing the burn marks from an iron on Jacob's body to him burying a plastic baby doll in the dirt which hints at something sinister. The trouble is that "For the Love of a Child" is not the most subtle of movies and comes across at times like a series of power scenes without the bits in between to make it flow. It is because it not only tries to cover so many aspects of abuse but also the back story to Childhelp that it causes it to lose that flow, not that what it shows doesn't work but it could have been better.
Then there is the acting and sadly it is a seriously mixed bag. The child actors, especially Matthew Knight as Jacob and Emily Hirst as Laura blow you away with their performances of damaged children, it is partly down to these young actors that "For the Love of a Child" is so hard hitting. But then you have the adults and whilst Peri Gilpin and Teri Polo are good actresses often come across as false because they don't get the opportunity to grow their characters, one minute they are bubbly on stage, next caring for children, next we see them much older in the now than when we saw them in 1959. It is again because the movie is trying to do too much and focuses on getting an emotional reaction from the viewer that these characters end up feeling wrong.
What this all boils down to is that there is no doubt that "For the Love of a Child" is a moving, emotional, powerful and at times sickening movie with a hard hitting story to tell. But because it is trying to do too much, to cover too many aspects of child abuse as well as the back story of Childhelp that it struggles.
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