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After a slow start that has all the makings of another tepid Christian drama, Voiceless gets real—with no angelic hero, and no bow-tied ending. Writer/director Pat Necerato intimates that effective opposition to abortion will require the church to get its hands a little dirty.
Discharged after a tour in Afghanistan, Jesse (Rusty Joiner) takes a job as the community outreach director of an inner-city Philadelphia church. An abortion center sits across the street from the church, but Pastor Gil (James Russo) has avoided the subject altogether, saying he doesn’t want to drive away parishioners.
“We are pro-life; we aren’t pro-activism,” Gil explains to Jesse, mirroring many churches’ sentiments. Also ringing true is Jesse’s klutzy sidewalk counseling, due in part to issues from his checkered past. Outside the abortion center, he talks with a young woman who asks him if she’ll see her baby in heaven. When he can’t muster the words to answer her, the woman pushes him away and walks into the building. Like Gil and Jesse, many Christians feel ill-equipped to minister to women facing unwanted pregnancies.
To reach out to men in the community, Jesse offers boxing lessons. Still, a young Chuck Norris with bulging biceps doesn’t fit the image pro-lifers typically hope to convey. Jesse’s manhandling of the abortion center’s security guard (arguably in self-defense) will certainly raise some viewers’ eyebrows. Another tragic intervention and an ambiguous finale show Necerato’s willingness to take some storytelling risks.
By the end of Voiceless (rated PG-13 for thematic material and some violence), Jesse is just beginning to learn from his mistakes. He finds that the greatest opposition to pro-life work often comes from those closest to him. He also discovers that the most extreme (and effective) pro-life strategy might be for Christians to open their arms and homes to troubled young mothers.