Renee Zellweger steps away from Bridget Jones’s Diary and takes a leap of faith in Pure Flix’s new Christian film, Same Kind of Different as Me. Based on the fictional novel of the same name, Same Kind of Different as Me is the touching true story of servanthood and connection found amongst the unlikeliest of friends.
The film, released on Oct. 17, 2017, initially appears to be about the wealthy Deborah and Ron Hall, played by Zellweger and Greg Kinnear. While we saw Kinnear play a pastor in 2014’s Heaven is for Real, here he plays an international art-dealer trying to correct his most recent mistakes. After confessing his affair to Deborah, Ron begins to serve at a homeless shelter with his wife, yet his community service project quickly becomes more than just a second chance; it becomes his saving Grace.
One of the more impactful scenes in the film shows Ron reluctantly stepping forward in the cafeteria. He pulls on plastic gloves and asks, “Any infectious diseases I should know about?”
“Yeah,” the shelter worker replies. “We try and infect them all with love.”
Kinnear and Zellweger’s performances are believable and empowering, but Djimon Hounsou steals the screen with his powerful portrayal of a homeless man and former convict named Denver. Hounsou conveys Denver’s trauma with balanced emotion, effectively keeping the storyline from appearing religiously sappy. His character colors the film in both diversity and richness, bringing this movie to a new level of Christian filmmaking.
While the production only pulled in a little over $2,500,000 its opening weekend, the movie highlighted an important cause we typically don’t see included in screenplays: homelessness. Both the book and movie versions of Same Kind of Different as Me center the plot on the necessity and expansion of homeless services.
First-time director Michael Carney decided to even practice what he preached. Rather than just build a Hollywood set, Carney had the film produced in Jackson, MI, an impoverished area in need of human resources. Hundreds of Mississippi locals played extras, and all premiere proceeds were donated to local charities.
This uniqueness intrigued the actors and incentivized them to accept their roles. However, it was essential for the actors to remember this wasn’t just an atypical, charity event; all of their efforts were inspired by the true accounts of Deborah, Ron, and Denver. Zellweger told Movieguide that it was “an honor to play a woman who committed her life to changing other people’s lives.”
In Same Kind of Different as Me, an affluent family extends their hands to help the less fortunate. What starts off as a story of good intentions eventually develops into a testament of community, transformation, and friendship. Ron and Deborah did impact many lives, as Zellweger mentioned. But it’s Denver who stole their hearts first.
For more information on Union Gospel Mission and the help you can provide, visit their website. Same Kind of Different as Me is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, including some violence and language.
Featured Image by Bekah Russom