Being raised Catholic the notion of God calling down to someone and delivering a message to help someone make a decision in life is actually a concept that’s easy to accept. Whether someone else believes, well, that’s a whole other can of worms people usually don’t like to discuss. But with If You Really Love Me we are given a look behind the curtain at one man’s decision to leave a successful law firm in order to fulfill the destiny laid out by what would appear is a higher power.
The film doesn’t just focus on one couple, but instead on the lives of six individuals tied together between blood and friendship. But each character is faced with making a decision that will undoubtedly change their lives for better or worse. There are Charles (Mel Jackson) and Christine (Reagan Gomez-Preston) who are engaged but there are doubts that threaten to end the engagement. There is Tonya (Caryn Ward), the youngest sister who still has intense feelings for her half-sister’s fiancé. David is on the cusp of opening his own barbershop while aiding his brother on his decision to be a preacher. And then there is the seemingly happy couple Fran (Eva Marcille) and Philip (Keith Robinson) dealing with the choice he has made to follow in the service of God.
Though I wanted more with each of these characters, there is still enough here to keep us interested and even manage to learn a lesson or two from their decisions and their mistakes. If there was one thing that bothered me more than anything, it’s with the way Philip comes to make his decision to his wife; we are just as surprised by his decision as his wife, and because of that it’s hard to accept his side of things. That’s bothersome mostly because his decision, though it may seem rash, is at least an honorable one, especially when Fran responds with what appears to be superficial reasoning.
The subject matter may feel heavy at times as well as being a bit excessive considering everything happens at once, but thankfully there is a good bit of humor sprinkled along the way to keep the mood light. Helping keep the mood light as well as sharing some “divine” insight is an angel, Lena (Deeta West) who just so happens to the mother of all three girls and happens to be looking in on them from a distance. More or less, though, this character felt as if she were added to point out the not-so-obvious morals to be learned throughout the film.
With this low-budget production director Roger Melvin, who previously released Sugar Mommas and She’s Still Not Our Sister, seems to be improving as a director and is someone I’d like to see depart from these made-for-TV movies. He seems to understand the value of finding the right actor and getting them to evoke the right energy for the scene, but I’m curious if he can carry this over away from the soundstage and into a higher-grade production.
Had this had a larger budget where they could shoot on real locations instead of sets you’d find in a college theater, I could see this not only looking better but actually being better. Though it’s considered a TV movie, really it’s nothing more than a televised play no different than the average sit-com (it even has a laugh track, which I despise more than anything). Thankfully the script pulls it together for the most part and avoids falling into any drastically clichéd pitfalls. For those that enjoy the Tyler Perry-esque films, this may be something you’ll enjoy, but for everyone else you may want to avoid this, unless a higher power calls upon you to do otherwise.