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'Indivisible' review: Faith-based drama marred by sluggish script, low-energy performances

Real-life armed forces veteran Skye P. Marshall, left,

Real-life armed forces veteran Skye P. Marshall, left, and Darren Turner in "Indivisible." Credit: Pure Flix/Michael Kubeisy

PLOT An Army chaplain in Iraq returns home in need of guidance himself.

CAST Justin Bruening, Sarah Drew, Jason George



BOTTOM LINE A low-energy drama about a crisis of faith

The wars in the Middle East have tended to burble in the background of the American consciousness, and movies about post-traumatic stress disorder have largely done the same. Perhaps because of their discomfiting topic, these movies rarely push to the forefront of the national conversation; they more likely fizzle out at the box office. For every mega-hit like “American Sniper,” there’s a half-dozen little-remembered titles like “Brothers,” “Thank You for Your Service,” and “Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk.”

“Indivisible,” an attempt by the faith-based studio Pure Flix to tackle PTSD, seems unlikely to fare much better, at least outside of its core audience. Based on a true story, the film focuses on Army chaplain Darren Turner (Justin Bruening), who returns from Iraq withdrawn, angry and at times delusional. It’s a potentially interesting twist on a familiar story — a case of the doctor, so to speak, becoming the patient. Unfortunately, middling production values, a sluggish script and low-energy performances make “Indivisible” a less-than-riveting experience.

Surely the life of an Army chaplain has its dramas, but you wouldn’t know it from “Indivisible.” Turner's duties include telling cranky Major Lewis (Jason George) to call his wife and holding a theological debate with an obligatory atheist, Lance Bradley (Tanner Stine). Calm conversations are the order of the day, which makes this an awfully low-wattage war movie. Even when Turner narrowly escapes an enemy rocket, the explosion looks neatly contained and the chaplain emerges without a scratch.

Meanwhile, back home, Turner’s wife, Heather (Stony Brook native Sarah Drew), tends to other soldiers’ wives. The tables are turned when her own husband comes back jumpy, hot-tempered and distant. As Turner’s marriage crumbles, we expect a catharsis, an epiphany or even some magical moment that will bring him back to normalcy. The closest we get is a tough-love talk from Lewis that, for whatever reason, seems to resonate.

Like many faith-based films, “Indivisible” aims to slavishly replicate the look and feel of a mainstream Hollywood drama while putting forth its message. The result tends to be a bland product with one-dimensional characters, a formulaic script and a professional but impersonal directing approach from whoever got the job (in this case, David G. Evans). “Indivisible” misses its chance to shed an informative light on the mysteries of PTSD — if, indeed, that was its goal.

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