3 Stars – Wholesome
Tom Kleine’s experience as a special education teacher is reflected in his two films serially combined in “One Year/One Week.” Released on DVD, the moralistic films sensitively present both the struggles and the opportunities teachers have to change lives. Uneven in both acting and cinematic skill, the films nevertheless tell a compelling tale.
The central character of “One Year” is Sam (Brooks Whitlock as a 5th grader and Bryan Harris as an adult). In a creative job interview, Sam is asked to reflect on what makes him who he is. He describes a year in his life when he was powerfully rescued by a caring 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Carroll (Elizabeth Tannehill). As writer, director and producer, this simple story of a teacher’s compassion demonstrates Kleine’s overt attempt to honor his profession.
Continuing the tale in the second film, the central character of “One Week” is Brett (Ryan Schneider). Although this award-winning film was made first, the tale continues as the CEO of the company that hired Sam tries in his will to change the life direction of his younger brother Brett. As two brothers whose father left them when they were young, Dan became the responsible one while his younger brother Brett chose the partying life. Concerned that he will no longer be there to watch over him, Dan weaves together a week of experiences that are designed to both confront Brett with the direction of his life as well as provide the opportunity to reconcile with significant people in his past.
The central theme of both films is one of redeeming lives that have gotten a poor start or off track. Though well intentioned and heartfelt, the difficulty of finding true redemption without spiritual help is what is missing from these films. Although prayer is mentioned, and there is obvious compassion for those whose lives have left them damaged and homeless, there is no community of faith supporting anyone within the film. Forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption are far more difficult than these films imply and most often are made possible only with God’s help.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. As you look back at your life, what was the most significant year in making you who you are today? What was the most significant week of your life?
2. When Dan and Brett’s father abandoned them as children, Dan began to take care of his younger brother. This caused Dan to over-function and give himself to work while it caused Brett to under-function and become a player. Do you believe that Brett could change in a week? Why or why not?
3. If you were left twenty million dollars by your family member, would you leave it to a homeless ministry? If not, what do you think you would do with it?