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By Jennifer E. Jones
The 700 Club Multi-Media Producer
- Kevin Max is Johnny C, lead singer of the fictional Christian band Grand Design. He seems perfect on paper, but behind the image, he has a different story to tell. In The Imposter, he narrates a tale of redemption and what really happens when the prodigal son returns home still holding the weight of his decisions in his hand.
Johnny C is a bonafide rock star with a drug addiction that is hidden from his fans, but an unspoken concern amongst his bandmates (one of which is worship artist Jeff Deyo). His wife struggles to hold their relationship together, but is finally fed up with Johnny’s hidden pills and indiscretions with groupies. After finding him with a bag of drugs, she takes their daughter and leaves him. Eventually, Johnny’s bad boy behavior gets him dropped from his label, and a dark spiral ensues. Through unlikely friendships and having the rug of fame ripped out from under him, he begins the long road back to what truly matters.
The Imposter falls victim to a curse that many Christian films can’t seem to shake – poor acting. Casting musicians to play musicians only really worked during the song interludes. Otherwise, audience members are never too far away from remembering that they aren’t watching professionals.
To be fair to the actors, some of the scripted dialogue was unrealistic. The sprinkling of old King James Scripture quoting in regular conversation did nothing to help matters.
That aside, the over-arching issue of drug and alcohol abuse is one that is handled well. For anyone dealing with friends or family members who are addicts, certain moments in this film ring all too true – especially when Johnny C sees just how many bridges his addiction has burned.
It’s slim pickings if you’re looking for a breakout performance. Arianne Martin who plays Johnny’s wife spends 90% of her scenes in tears, which truthfully gets old after the first hour. Sadly, for being one of the only two recognizable names on this project, Jeff Deyo simply gets lost in this script. Troy Baker is convincing as the smarmy Brit from another record label, yet Kerry Livgren’s performance as Proff was flat and lifeless. Lastly, while minor and admittedly subjective, I was incredibly irritated that the only minority in the entire film is a homeless lunatic who is insightful, yet unintelligible most of the time.
The film is not without any highlights. If there is a true shining light, it would be Kevin Max. Despite a few unconvincing moments, over all, he is earnestly inside his narcissist character and owns every snarky remark and devilishly charming grin. Of course, you can’t find fault in Max’s singing. His voice hasn’t skipped a beat. He still sounds as clear as he did when he rocked with dcTalk on Supernatural. Also, the relationship between Johnny and his preacher father has several layers that I didn’t see coming and wish had been more explored.
Longtime fans of Christian music will no doubt want to draw parallels between Grand Design and dcTalk – particularly anyone who read Max’s book Unfinished Work that hints at less than role model behavior. Whether The Imposter is art depicting life is something only a few know for certain and the rest of us can only speculate.
I appreciate that this film doesn’t have a perfect happy ending, but it still offers hope for our damaged hero and perhaps for anyone else seeking a second chance. If you can wade through the film’s choppy waters, you’ll find a message that can inspire anyone and is told as only Kevin Max can tell it.
Jennifer E. Jones is the 700 Club Multi-Media Producer. Read her bio or be her friend on My.CBN.com.
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