As a fan of Taraji P. Henson ("Hustle & Flow," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"), I was curious to see what she would bring to her role as a wife dealing with a struggling marriage. My own involvement in "Fireproof," as the one who wrote the novel based on the screenplay, gave me appreciation for this important subject, and yet I'd heard little about this film. My expectations for the overall story were low.
What a nice surprise! Without being crass or gratuitous, the script allows these characters to portray real problems in believable ways. Soon after the rosy opening, in which they tie the knot with the bishop's wise words barely sinking in, they find their marriage crumbling beneath financial pressures, different goals, and a drought of physical intimacy. Dave wants a child, while Clarice is career-minded and wanting to build a comfortable lifestyle--even if it means "faking it till you make it." Dave compensates by coaching Little League, an activity that Clarice fails to understand and which allows the mother-in-law to push her way into the home.
With things already rocky, a tragic accident leaves Clarice in physical therapy and feeling bitter. Her therapist, an attractive white female, turns the head of Dave's male friends, and the bond that he builds with her becomes threatening to Clarice and to their hopes of ever rebuilding the love they once had for each other.
The acting is superb, particularly on the part of Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, and the lady who plays the mother-in-law. There's some nice comic relief, and there are a number of powerful scenes that don't always end with nice tidy resolutions. The message is one of hope and encouragement, but it doesn't feel too preachy or glib. It's a satisfying and worthy tale on a number of levels, and not one to be easily dismissed.