“Nobody can help everybody, but everybody can help somebody.”
Set in the Fort Worth-Dallas, Texas area, Same Kind of Different as Me is great to see without much background. The strong filmmaking and acting elevate the base material based on true events from the life of Ron Hall and Denver Noone.
Ron and Denver co-wrote the book of the same name with Lynn Vincent who also co-wrote Heaven is For Real.
Same Kind of Different as Me reveals a specific, personal narrative about life’s toughest elements among the journeys of three main characters as a married couple befriend a homeless man while working at a local mission and soup kitchen.
Ron, portrayed by Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets), is a popular international art dealer. Kinnear’s earnest performance sets the tone early though the storyline format takes a while to fully orient audiences.
Ron’s wife Debbie is played by Renée Zellweger (Cold Mountain, Chicago, Bridget’s Jones’s Diary). Her quiet, but focused demeanor comes into shape after a specific vision that gives her life a new direction.
Debbie reaches an amazing personal plateau during an interior sequence on the phone and an emotional plateau in a memorable exterior sequence on a couch with Denver Noone, well played by Djimon Hounsou (In America, Blood Diamond).
His appearance only begins his equally memorable story while the roots of Denver’s defensive behavior come through in the flashback sequences (e.g. Louisiana’s brutal Angola prison), which have a great impact without shocking audiences into content that was obviously much worse.
Once Denver drops his defenses, he is soon favored in more ways than one changing Ron and Debbie’s lives forever.
This trio sticks to the material without peppering the emotional action with distracting quirks as their initial surface character development reveals more until the satisfying ending leaves audiences wanting more.
Ron’s father Earl, played by Jon Voight (Coming Home, Ali) provides additional challenges for Ron while Austin Filson and Disney starlet Olivia Holt plays the Hall’s son and daughter.
Dayton, Ohio native Thomas Francis Murphy (Free State Of Jones, 12 Years a Slaves) bring his veteran experience to the film as Chef Jim who provides a bridge to Ron’s experience at the mission/soup kitchen …and the audience’s as well.
Filmmakers close loop holes nicely, but the overall development is still pretty broad. The high level acting elevates the faith-based material even higher.
Michael Carney makes unique marks in his feature film debut. For example, a key martial crisis sequence impacts audiences with intermittent scenes of frustration then quiet sadness without jolting the audience into manipulated reactions.
Don Burgess (Forrest Gump, Contact) masters the gorgeous cinematography where every frame would be a captivating photograph amid great environments filmed in Mississippi. John Paesano (The Maze Runner) provides an equally stunning musical score that matches the movie’s evenly paced tone.
Audiences have likely reflected on this quality film’s title before they enter theaters as their experience can expand into empathy, grace, history, humility, perseverance, redemption, and, ultimately, unity among themes of economic/racial tension, prejudice and various stereotypes.
All these elements prompt some thought as the film eventually forms into this basic theme – “take the time to talk to others, share your life and make a difference.”
Ron, Deborah, Ron’s children and Denver are prominently featured during the ending credits set to Brad Paisley’s song “Stubborn Angel,” which was written in Deborah’s honor.
Filmed in Mississippi, the 119-minute Same Kind of Different As Me comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some violence and language.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler