In the past couple of weeks, I’ve screened no less than three movies dealing with the subject of cancer. These are, as you might imagine, difficult movies to “enjoy.” Cancer is a terrible disease, and probably most of us have felt its touch in one way or another. And yet I can honestly say, despite the gritty subject matter, I’ve “enjoyed” all three.
The first one, titled New Life (in limited markets Oct. 28), is a fictional take on a couple whose doctor (Lost’s Terry O’Quinn) has to deliver the tough health news not once, but twice. The wife (Erin Bethea, Fireproof) also faces a miscarried pregnancy. Despite the one-two punch, the couple eventually finds joy in the storm. An encouraging onscreen example to say the least!
The second film, Until Forever, is based on the true story of a man named Michael Boyum. Michael and his soon-to-be girlfriend, Michelle, hit it off almost instantly, but when they discover he has leukemia, they’re faced with the decision as to whether or not to marry. Both handle this extreme trial with faith and dignity. A video of the real Boyums during the credits only serves to underscore the couple’s devotion. Until Forever is set to release Jan. 3.
The third, a documentary titled To Joey, with Love, highlights events that occurred in 2014-2016 in the lives Joey and Rory Feeks—the real-life country duo Joey + Rory.
If you’re the type of person who balks at watching someone else’s home movies, you may want to make an exception here. What starts out as typical home-movie footage soon morphs into the couple walking through Joey’s Stage 4 cervical cancer, the birth and early life of their baby girl, Indiana (born with Downs Syndrome), and Joey’s passing this March.
It’s quite possible you’re one of the many fans of this couple’s music and may have been one of the millions who followed them on Rory’s blog. If not, here’s a quick history lesson: In 2010, the Academy of Country Music nominated Joey + Rory as the Top Vocal Duo of the Year and awarded them top honors for Best New Vocal Duo. They recorded eight studio albums and charted three singles on the Hot Country chart.
Despite their success, the Feeks decided in January 2014 to take a year off and simplify their lives, preparing for the birth of their baby. It was during that time that Rory began recording on video the kind of normal, everyday life that we all take with our cell phones—little knowing that these videos would document some of the most difficult, tragic and paradoxically joyful moments of their lives.
What I found most encouraging is that even when things were the bleakest, the Feeks were not about to let their trials get the best of them (as you’ve most likely noted a common thread in all three films). Watching To Joey, one can’t help but sense that the grace and peace they found in their moments of need was almost supernatural.
“I’m not trying to sell tickets [to the film],” explained Rory to USA Today. “I’m just trying to share my wife.” And by sharing Joey with the world, it’s certain many will be inspired by the Feeks’ example on how to handle the worst that life dishes out. The trailer has been viewed an astonishing 1.4 million times.
Note: if you’re going to catch To Joey, with Love in the theater, you’ll not want to blink. Like Focus on the Family’s Irreplaceable and The Drop Box, the theatrical release is being handled as a Fathom event (two showings only: Sept. 20 and an encore Oct. 6).
Lastly, no matter which of these films you see (or all three), be sure to stuff your pockets with several tissues. And I mean that in a good way!