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Reel Review - His Only Son
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Published May 2023


His Only Son


Rating: PG-13

Genre: Biography/History, Christian, Drama

Director / Executive Producer: David Helling

Writer: David Helling

Release Date Watch it on Redbox., Vudu, Prime Video or Apple TV

Runtime: 1h 46m

Cast: Nicolas Mouawad as Abraham, Sara Seyed as Sarah, Daniel da Silva as The Lord, Scot Cooper as The Centurion, Luis Fernandez-Gil as Eliezer, Edaan Moskowitz as Isaac, Ottavio Taddei as Kelzar, Nathan Tetreault as the Comrade, Arianna White as the Harlot, Kevin Kapellas as the Lead Horseman and Alexandria Lior as the Stolen Daughter

Review Courtesy: PluggedIn
Reviewer: Bob Hoose



MOVIE REVIEW
Abraham had waited so very long.

The one and true Creator had called him out of his former life to live something of a wanderer’s existence when Abraham was not long past his 70th year. But that wandering, Abraham was assured, had purpose. God promised He would make him the beginning of a great nation and bless him. But even more important, God promised Abraham and his wife Sarah a son.

But that was so many years before. So many, in fact, that Sarah gave up hope because of her advancing age. She even pushed Abraham to lay with her maid, Hagar, as a means of bringing forth that progeny.

Despite this lapse of faith, however, the Almighty did eventually—in His own time—give the couple the son they so longed for. They called the boy Isaac, a name derived from the word “laughter,” expressing Abraham’s joy at having a son in his old age.

That, however, was not the end of their story. God still had much to teach, much to give, to require, to … take.

One quiet night, somewhere in Abraham’s 130th year, God’s spirit met Abraham and told him to proceed to Mount Moriah—a trek of some three days—to make a sacrifice. In spite of his advanced age, Abraham was more than happy to obey. But it was the second part of the command that set the old man back on his heels. For God required a specificsacrifice: He required that Abraham sacrifice … his son.

He must bind the young man, spill his blood on the top of that distant mountain and offer him as a burnt offering. He must give back the laughter that Abraham had waited so long for.

But if there was nothing else that this old man of God had learned over the many years and Abraham’s many failures, it was that the Creator’s promises were to be believed. His word was true. It was just. So, Abraham gathered his supplies and called forth his son. For they would travel together and serve God

After waiting so long, Abraham now had only three days left.

POSITIVE ELEMENTS
It’s plain to see that Abraham and Sarah love one another. And when Sarah gives her maid, Hagar, to her husband as a “second wife,” she initially does so as a way to, in her mind, show him love and honor God’s promise. (Though later, she realizes that she is very bitter about not having a child of her own and she becomes jealous of Hagar.)

Ultimately God illustrates to both Sarah and Abraham that their impatience was foolish. In spite of that failing, Abraham does his best to remain faithful to God and show his wife love.

SPIRITUAL ELEMENTS
When seen from a distance, Abraham’s story can be interpreted as God’s call to mankind to remain patient and trust in His promises. And His Only Son goes beyond that to make a direct connection between Abraham’s called-upon (but suspended) sacrifice and God’s plan to sacrifice His son, Jesus, as a covering for the sins of the world.

Throughout the film, Abraham meets sporadically with glowing individuals who represent a heavenly personage and impart God’s will to him. We see God offering a covenant and Abraham struggling to stand strong and always trust God’s word (despite long passages of time).

While on their journey to Mount Moriah, Abraham and Isaac are accompanied by two other men who give them aid. But they have questions about why God is calling for this sacrifice on a distant mountaintop. One of them, Esh, wonders if it is to earn God’s favor. But Abraham replies that God’s favor cannot be earned. He tells the man of the vast chasm between sinful men and the holy God. “Only He can bridge that gap,” Abraham declares. “I saw myself as I really was: Worthless apart from his grace.”

Esh also notes that “to trek so far seems like an act of penance.” And Abraham remembers back to when Sarah gave him Hagar as a second wife. And it’s clear that perhaps Abraham believes that their journey may be a sort of penance as well. In fact, that distrust of God’s timing turns out to be a major stumbling block for Sarah’s faith and peace of mind, even though she was the one who forced the issue with her maid.

We see Sarah weeping and praying to have a child. But she is praying to “stones and the moon,” an idol worship that Abraham quickly puts an end to. A moment of peril and danger drives Abraham to remember something Sarah once said to him: “If all your hopes were dashed upon the rocks and all that you loved was lost, would your faith still stand? Or would you curse God?” And Abraham declares that he would not waver.

Abraham prays repeatedly. And in one instance he asks that God take his life and spare his son’s.

Abraham talks with Isaac about several issues and both men ask the rhetoric question, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Later, when they reach Mount Moriah, Abraham admits the truth of God’s request to his son. “We must have faith that our God—the giver and taker of life—has the power to give life again,” he tells his son. Isaac is obviously shaken by what is being asked of him, but he gives himself over to the altar with words that mirror those of Jesus: “Not my will, but His be done,” Isaac states bravely.

“Now I know that you fear God,” the Almighty says as he stays Abraham’s knife hand. “Since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” During one of his visions, Abraham sees a representation of the holy Trinity. And we’re shown Jesus on the cross, about 2,000 years after the events of Abraham’s life. A Roman centurion kneels and proclaims his faith in the Son of God.

SEXUAL CONTENT
Sarah makes it plain that she wants Abraham to take her maid as a second wife. And though he at first refuses, Sarah convinces him that it may indeed be God’s will. “Not only has He led you to a barren land, He has made your wife barren as well.” We never see any physical interactions between Abraham and Hagar, but we do see her pregnant. And we see the look of disdain she has in her eyes when looking upon Sarah.

While Abraham and his group are traveling, they come upon a small tent occupied by harlots. A guy starts to bargain for the women’s services, but Abraham walks past without a word or glance.

VIOLENT CONTENT
In their travels, Abraham, Isaac and their two servants encounter a group of riders who threaten them and search their things for payment to travel the road they’re on. After finding nothing of value in their sacks, they move on. Later, Abraham’s group encounter a dying and bloody man lying by the side of the road. The injured man reports that his daughter was stolen away, before dying. The riders show up again after that, dragging a young woman behind one of their horses. They say that since the beaten girl “is used goods now” they might take Isaac instead. A conflict arises and both Isaac and Abraham are wounded and beaten to the ground before the men leave. (The two are lightly bloodied and Isaac is held with a sword at his throat.)

In the course of their journey, Abraham has horrible dreams of raising his knife to sacrifice Isaac. And once they reach the mountain top, he binds his son, lays him on the altar and repeats his dream’s action … before being stopped by God’s voice.

A rider recounts the story of a younger Abraham taking a group of shepherds into battle with an army and leading his rabble group to victory. Abraham returns to Sarah after being gone for a few days, covered in blood. The elder Abraham must knock down an attacking young man with his staff.

CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE
None.

DRUG AND ALCOHOL CONTENT
None.

OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS
As mentioned, Sarah has several moments of doubt, declaring that God has given Abraham nothing but an “inheritance of dead land” and “famine.”

CONCLUSION
Abraham is, of course, an incredibly important figure in God’s story of redemption. That isn’t because he led a perfect life. Like all of us, he was flawed. But he was a man of faith; a man who maintained hope in God’s promise. His Only Son portrays this sense of enduring trust and hope extremely well. It’s an emotional film that readily helps viewers connect Abraham’s many-faceted story to God’s sacrificial plan for our atonement.

The only real drawback here is the director’s choice to have a younger actor play the elder Abraham, who was well over 100 when called upon to make his momentous trek to Mount Moriah. The truth is, there is solemnity and grace in true age—especially when the aged are faced with struggling for godly insight—and that’s extremely difficult to portray on screen, no matter how much makeup is worn.

That said, this is still a solid film designed to give believers and unbelievers alike some thoughtful biblical insights for the Easter season.

The Reviewer – Bob Hooser
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.