Unconditional (2012) Poster

(IV) (2012)

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Solid, compelling storytelling, if slightly overdramatized
Ian Reed5 September 2012
I got to see an early showing of this film, and went in knowing very little about it. When a special message for my screening played, describing the process of making it and revealing that it was coming from Harbinger, a media company "created to produce high quality theatrical films that honor God," I groaned a bit internally, fearing a trite, preachy, overly earnest two hours.

The film was wonderful. Beautiful, even.

It tells the story of Samantha Crawford, a woman whose life is falling apart. Her husband has been killed in a senseless incident, and she is severely depressed. Through a seemingly random encounter with two girls, she is reunited with one of her oldest friends, Joe Bradford.

I'm not sure whether or not the character of Samantha exists, but the parts about Bradford are all based on the actual man, who was involved in the production of the film. He is a truly inspiring figure, and the representations of his compassion and love for the impoverished neighborhood he lives in do not feel at all forced.

In fact, none of the film did, except for a small scene toward the end, and each character was well-written and well-portrayed.

I definitely recommend this movie. I suppose some may find it preachy, but it is mostly an examination of love and hope, and how to continue on when they are lost. Or even better, how to regain them. 8/10
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susan-ra-long23 September 2012
I absolutely love this movie, I had no idea that this movie would move me the way that is has. The story of the two characters and how they intersect in each others lives is wonderfully played out. I agree with the other reviews that the movie didn't seem forced at all because it seems its based on fact and not fiction. I was in tears, I laughed , and cried again. This story of unconditional love and redemption is wonderful. To make it even better the basis of the movie had in it the LOVE of God, many people may not appreciate that but its a beautiful concept to be placed in such a wonderful plot. The words to use for how I feel about this movie, I find none because it was just that awesome.
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An unexpected surprise ... excellent in every sense of the word
debsmith23 September 2012
I went into this movie with no expectations, but loved - loved - loved it! So many great messages, ideas, concepts ... I'll be thinking about this movie for a long time forward. It's full of Biblical concepts, but doesn't feel the least bit "preachy". Honor the PG-13 rating and don't take younger kids ... although the concepts of love, acceptance, struggle, faith, hope, etc. are universal, there is some violence and some of the subjects/themes are in many ways adult (as in grown-up, not as in sexual). Again, loved the movie and want to see it again to better soak in the details ... I may have missed something due to the tears (both sad & happy ones).
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Excellent Film
kplorax13 June 2013
The description of the film as "Christian-oriented" almost made me not watch this movie. I thought it might be too preachy or religious for my taste. I am glad I gave Unconditional a chance because it was an excellent film with an overall good spiritual message and a message about how important one person can be in a community and how important a community can be for one person. Nothing about the plot is too original and plot was sometimes unbelievable or just too scripted. Yet I loved it. With so many movies and documentaries focused on fighting and violence, it was refreshing to see a movie that was so positive without being too cheesy. Excellent acting by everyone but especially Lynn Collins and Michael Ealy. In the tradition of Pay It Forward.
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I was moved by the trailer, yet the movie really blew me away! I figured this would be an average B rated movie with a nice Christian plot to it. My kids ended up coming into the room and could not get up. This is the exposure to what is really going on in America right now with children. Fathers are SO important! Kudos to the actors and OMG to the children and even the horse. Certain scenes just had us crying. Rent this and you won't be disappointed! The other thing I liked was how a man actually found himself in prison and when he got out was actually a BETTER person and found love and happiness...WONDERFUL! thanks so much for a message of HOPE. God bless.
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Great Film!
Kevin Elzinga31 May 2013
I am disappointed that this movie did not see better box office ratings. It has many of the hallmarks of great movie-making.

The cinematography is terrific and a lot of thought is given to symbolism in the story.

The opening sequence is riveting; showing three lost souls each experiencing their own trials and turmoil.

A woman, whose husband was murdered, considers suicide in the alley where he was killed.

At the same time, two children are stealing from a store and must flee when spotted by security.

Finally, a man stumbles into his house in great pain.

While each character is suffering his or her trial, a storm is raging outside in the night.

Each character is on his or her own path and must face the storm in his or her own way.

Throughout the movie we learn a great deal about these characters through flashbacks as well as about the joys and hardships that bring each of the characters to where he or she is in the present. We do not know for sure what the fate of any character will be until the end of the movie.

I will warn you that the movie can be a tear jerker.

The movie has a way of capturing the subtlety of nature and its reflection of the human soul in a way that few movies can. The examples I list below are only a few of the many, brilliantly constructed scenes that appear throughout the movie.

A shadow falls on a character who is turning his or her thoughts to darkness and revenge. A ray of sunshine breaks through the clouds when a character makes a choice that is generous or brave.

A child...


...but off camera...

...simultaneously warns his little sister and the main character NOT to make a choice.

"I wouldn't do that!" his voice calls out.

It is clear to us as viewers, that as far as the child character is concerned, he is only warning his little sister.

But the director makes it clear to us that the warning is somehow meant for BOTH characters.

And now each character must make a choice whether to pursue the action that he or she is considering pursuing.

This very brief, but powerful scene, hints at a hidden unity to the human spirit and whether each character, major or minor, heeds this warning plays a significant part in forwarding the theme of the movie which is that while we have free choice, our choices can lead to devastation, sorrow and ruin or they can lead to enlightenment, joy and success.

And with each choice that a character makes, the cinematographers alter the scenery and the lighting of the surroundings to match the path that each character takes.

I can't offer enough praise to the writers and the cinematographers of this film. They clearly worked together and communicated together from day one of this movie's production.

I never felt, when watching this, that anything was overdone. The movie had the right balance of story, theme and scenery to ensure that the viewer did not come away feeling preached at or advertised to.

I showed this movie to a group of students who have faced numerous trials of their own, whether in school or at home.

They were a bit hard to the idea of the movie at first, but after ten minutes, they were hooked and the hardness in their eyes had vanished.

This movie can speak to anyone going through a trial and I highly recommend it.
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What a Movie should be!
Adam21 September 2012
Hollywood has got it in there heads that a movie should have sexually suggestive material, pervasive language, and blood and gore all throughout the film in order to make a good movie.

Well Unconditional proves that you don't have to have those elements in order to have a great movie. Unconditional pulls at your heart in many ways. It makes you laugh and cry several times. Michael Ealy and Lynn Collins both give great honest performances. All of the kids do too.

This is an inspiring film for all to see. Please go and watch this movie and buy it when it comes out. Show your kids these kinds of movies and let them know God loves them all the time.
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Not a dry eye...
alex_clair-269-87710630 September 2012
I saw this movie last night. Afterwards had dinner with the producer's parents so was fun to get the back-story. I went in not expecting much since many smaller budget, independent films don't deliver. But... happy to report this was a very good film. It was well directed and acted. The writing flowed and technically sound. In other words, there was no element which distracted from being in the film and with the characters as the plot unfolded. The little boy that played the part of Macon must have a bright career ahead of him. Casting agents should give him consideration. I so agreed with the social dynamic of fatherlessness in America and how this impacts destiny. At the end of the film the audience actually applauded. I've only seen this once before in all my years of movie-viewing. By all means go and see this film. Or... put it on your list to rent when the DVD comes out. I'll be doing the same because I'll want to view it a second time and then pass along to my son and his family.
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Absolutely Loved this movie
bkmauch4291 July 2013
I highly recommend this movie. I absolutely loved it.

The story line kept me captivated the entire film. I loved the characters and the role of Papa Joe resonated with my heart.

You can't go wrong watching this movie.

There are some intense parts, but I am seriously contemplating having my 9 and 11 year old children watch this movie. There are numerous life lessons to be taught from this movie.

This movie is inspired by a true story and I love that at the end it directs you to check out their website www.unconditionalthemovie.com/act to look for ways that you can also make an impact on children in your own community.

The movie moves your heart and then gives connections on how you can help. Love it.
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This movie was a total surprise - I wasn't expecting it
Keith Doyle25 September 2012
So if you come away from a movie 'inspired' and even changed. The afterglow stays with you for a long while, the core message goes deep into your soul and like an incoming tide filing all the dry gaps between the rocks, it fills areas of your soul with new hope - how do you rate that regardless of it's 'Hollywood' quality? Personally - I give it a 9 or a 10. Few movies ever affect me like this. Unconditional did. It was very uplifting and encouraging. The movie had such a redemptive streak in it. There were some great twists and unexpected outcomes in this story. It showed grace touching those whose lives had been shattered through personal tragedy - kind of like the theme in a quote from Isaiah where it says 'a bruised reed I will not break, a smoldering wick I will not snuff out'. When I first looked at the ratings they were around 5.7 and there was another movie at 6.9 I was going to see, but the 3 of us went for Unconditional. We were all blown away - so glad we chose the 5.7 and have been talking about it since.
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Outstanding - must see
markcochran_998 March 2013
Wow. This is one of the most inspiring and encouraging movies I have seen in a long time. There is a powerful message for everyone about the power of unconditional love for others and the blessing it can have on an entire community. A great line for the movie: "There is a shortage of good men in this world". That is the truth!! A good man can have a profound impact on his family and his community. It doesn't take many good people to change the world. This movie is an oasis in a sea of mindless movies that continue to be released which keep emphasizing how selfishness and greed are how people get ahead in this world. This is a great movie for a date night or for the family to watch together. It provides a platform for many discussions and teaching opportunities.
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Wow!!! Amazing!
Horne Smith20 June 2013
What an amazing movie!! Very inspiring and such a beautiful story. Had no idea it was based on a true story and related back to the Love of God! I wish more people would see this film! I honestly did not know what to expect when I first started to watch this film, but the story slow draws you in, deeper and deeper and it draws on your emotions. This is a film worth saving and I will definitely be recommending this film for others to see as well. I am surprise that I never came across this film as a Christian Movie, and though it doesn't have a deeply religious undertone, the love of God is evident in this film from beginning to end. This was just a beautiful story!
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Amazing movie!!
hannahsinger1323 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is a truly amazing movie! I am so thankful that I got the chance to see a movie like this! It has truly changed my life! Make sure you watch this movie you won't be sorry! I went to see this movie because I liked the trailer and I am so happy I did! It opened my eyes! I like that it is based on a true story and that God is a theme in the movie! The truth is without God there would be no healing for Sam or Joe! It has some intense parts but I think everyone should see this! It has a message that needs to be heard! I praise the Lord that Hollywood got their acts together and made a really good movie for once! The actors are amazing ad the talent that they found is astonishing!
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UNCONDITIONAL Is Unconvincing in Many Ways but Remains Meaningful and Enjoyable
doug_park20016 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
As you may already be aware, this is a Christian film based partly on the life and work of "Papa Joe" Bradford, a former convict who founded a special program for "at risk" children in Nashville, Tennessee. While there is a definite religious agenda here, it's not too preachy and avoids promoting any specific church or doctrine.

The main reason why I give this as high a rating as I do is that the story of Samantha Crawford's search for her husband's murderer is quite riveting in places; there are some truly suspenseful and surprising moments here. Most of the acting is quite good, as is the cinematography, which shows some really captivating shots of storm clouds, waterfalls, and the like, as well as realistic filming of inner-city Nashville.

Still, the plot is all over the place, and the stories of Samantha and her childhood friend Joe do not intertwine quite as well as they could. The pervasive and schmaltzy soundtrack is distracting and seems a bit too intent on telling us how to feel about this and that. This entire film would have worked so much better if there had been more focus on simply relating the stories without trying to manipulate the audience's perceptions and emotions. While to its credit, the central Christian message keeps itself out of the film until toward the end, UNCONDITIONAL always seems to be on the verge of making some heavy-handed moral. The time-frame is also unclear; e.g., Joe Bradford is incarcerated for computer hacking, yet they still play phonograph records in the prison(?) While the film tries to be grittily realistic in places, the final effect falls flat, i.e., "We can show bloody murder, inner-city life in the 'projects,' and prison brawls, but _please_, no f-bombs, sexual references, or any of that type of stuff!!" The dialog is probably the most problematical element here. The creators were obviously trying to avoid an "R" rating, but this could have been better accomplished by simply having less (or at least less audible) dialog in the rougher spots.

Such is also the case with the ludicrously fake prison-yard fight scene. In the Special Features, one of the directors states that the actual fight that occurred during Joe Bradford's incarceration was "much more brutal than we could show on film." That being the case, it would have been more effective just to show the whole thing summarily and/or hazily, allowing the audience to tell what's going on without having to see it in graphic detail.

All the same, UNCONDITIONAL has many fine moments. The children (and theme of childhood in general) are particularly great in every respect. Bradford's first encounter with God's love (while in isolation during his prison stay) is also extremely well-done and worthy of mention.
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Lynn Collins and Michael Ealy good acting
SnoopyStyle18 October 2013
Sam Crawford (Lynn Collins) and Joe Bradford (Michael Ealy) are childhood friends who reconnects under difficult circumstances. She has lost her loving husband in a violent crime. She is suicidal and about to shoot herself when she runs to the aid of two little kids. They got run over after committing a petty crime. Sam finds that Joe is their mentor. In fact he's a mentor for many fatherless neighborhood kids even with his failing health.

This falls under the category of Christian film. The themes aren't too over the top. It's embedded into the story and is very watchable. The only problem is that there are a few too many coincidences to start this off with. Although it purports to be inspired by real life, this strikes an artificial note in the story.

Lynn Collins is very compelling as this character. She strips down to show some emotions in this role. Michael Ealy is good as the saintly Joe without being preachy. The little kids are pretty good too, especially Kwesi Boakye who plays Macon.
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Not Bad - Can Get Into It Though
cB3912 May 2013
This is an overview of the movie without giving away anything as some people do like to go into a movie cold. The main characters have opposite lives connected by common events. Both have their faith in God questioned at key moments in their lives. They respond asymmetrically and this leads them through different paths. While the story does focus on how God's love is unconditional, it goes past the obvious message and suggests that people make the changes in the world that they want to see. The movie will start of slow, and fast forwarding might be a nice option. As you get to the middle of the movie, there are some funny scenes, a little action and an attempt to build a complex storyline based on the interconnectedness of the main characters and the supporting cast of children.

6/10 - Definitely worth a watch, it might make you feel good - but does leave some annoying questions that go unanswered, some stereotypical characters that do exist to further the storyline, but all in all it is an enjoyable second half - wouldn't recommend for children solely because it is a complex storyline that might be a bit tough to follow.
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don't judge till the end...
andy_claudy810 March 2013
Well I decided to write my 1st review since I kinda understand why this movie critics were so mixed. Must say it was not what I expected to be but not in a bad way... I did not know if I hated or loved this movie till the end...started watching it very late at night and felt asleep, in the morning I felt I should give it try and see it till the end since I could not rate it otherwise. Well I'm glad I did. It has a deep message, emotional and beautiful picture and music. It is true that scrip could have been better and in some occasions is a little bit over dramatic but in the end it all makes sense. So... my advice, don't judge too soon ;)
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A movie for the entire family, or the entire room, "Unconditional" contains valuable teaching points.
Angela T26 August 2013
This is a story of loss, and a kind of redemption.

It is supposed that the makers did not trust a viewer to sit through until the end for the entire message, hence the preliminary advertisement of a target audience. It could be a means of assuring parents that the content should be acceptable, where it should suffice to study a movie's audience rating (or lack thereof). Other reviews indicate that some will be turned off by this initial targeting. The result is that this movie, enjoyable to anyone, gets a drawback point from me. This merely keeps it as a "9" on the scale.

Rated PG-13, the film does contain some minimal, non-graphic, gun violence and fighting, and encases mature themes for good conversation with others... especially young people and children.

It's an entertaining film. Expect to see manifestations of political and social ideology and misconception. Expect great performances from an array of capable cast members, many of whom are recognizable. Expect suspense, surprise and resolution. Expect to be entertained. Expect to walk away in appreciation of the many points made.
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It almost got me..
zentist-563-9769869 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie has to be made for TV, but that does not, in itself, make it a bad movie. I had read some reviews and was open-minded. The start was reasonable and gave no immediate notice of the movie's overtly Christian message although, looking back, the signs were all there from the very start. The primary female role is the white widow of a perfect white husband who was killed in a predominantly black area. I thought I was in for a revenge, Kill Bill style movie but was sadly disappointed. I guess revenge is not a Christian value since even though we find out who killed the husband (a white guy) by the time the once grieving wife finds out she has lost interest in revenge. If you like the Christian uplifting genre,then this is good movie for you but if you do not then you will start to feel sticky with the sugary sentiment about half way through and by the end will feel conned.
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Samantha is about to commit suicide after she finds out her husband is dead. She helps a little girl and reunites with her good friend Joe
derrickjones-9609324 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This Movie wasn't bad at all. what made my rating a 5 was that, to me it was predictable in a lot of places and emotional in some. There are points in this movie that relate to a lot of people also which also makes my rating low as well. It lacks the focus of targeting everyone, instead just people with close stories or with people that are into story drama's. From the cover of the movie it kind of throws people off but the description makes it seem adventurous and action filled when there were only few scenes that actually involved "action" this movie is a great film for a certain favorable audience. This film contains a very dark and questionable start and some things are kind of left out. there is 0 background history about the killer of the husband. about 4 times did I actually want to pay attention to this movie while watching it. the end of the movie is when it got pretty predictable. You have a best friend that is struggling with a kidney disease that's looks like he's at the brink of death. Pretty obvious that he wasn't going to die. just wouldn't have been right if he did. I do like the sarcastic kid and sister though.
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majones-2307818 February 2016
Matthew Jones Mrs.Dean Expository writing 2/4/2016 Unconditional Unconditional came out back in 2012 and this was my very first time watching it.The movie brought in a lot of money over 2 million dollars to be specific so clearly it was popular movie when it was released and I'm a little upset it took me this long to watch it so let me give you a few details about this movie.

So this movie takes place in the projects.There are mainly two main characters in this movie Samantha and Joe they were childhood friends that got split apart but a terrible tragedy brings them back together and opens up a new chapter in both of their lives.

Michael Ealy played the role of Joe Bradford and in my opinion he did an amazing job playing his character.Lynn Collins also did a very good job playing her role in the movie as Samantha Crawford.You can tell she takes pride in her acting and was a very consistent actor.

So what I love about this movie is you can't always predict what was going to happen next.This movie is very unpredictable and exciting.There was very few things I didn't like about the movie but one was the theme music I feel like they could had done a better job with the music.

The lesson I took from this movie was that no matter how hard times get even if you lose your way in life you can alway get back on track even if it takes a while you can always change.

People that would enjoy would be people that enjoy and intense film and mainly people that like a good emotional movie as well I would give this movie a rating of 3 out of 5 stairs so i watched this movie in one of my high school classes.School isn't my favorite place to be but I can deal with it.I get some what okay grades. but I mainly enjoy being with friends and driving fast cars.
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If You're Used to Junk, You Won't Appreciate This Amazing Story/Performance
the_remixer0819 August 2015
Normally when the box office tries to give a story like this the boot, I know nine times out of ten, it's a great film, and this film was one of them. Great performance, the cinematography was excellent, and the performances were outright spectacular.

I'll admit, I went into this movie a little nervous. Although I knew it would be a good story, I was worried about feeling sad all the way through because of the background. Don't get me wrong, I was sad at times, but I was very thrilled that humor was also added in the film.

I'm not surprised that that the box office slept on this movie, or many others for that matter. People are so used to seeing, action, sex and cussing every five minutes, you forget how well a clean and inspirational story can be told. I think people forget it's okay to have a peaceful story, and learn from it as well as be inspired.

Michael Ealy shows his ranges as any actor in a brilliant way, and I think this movie would be one of my favorites with him in it.

Please, if you want to know about overcoming your obstacles, giving yourself another chance at knowing life, give this movie a try and ignore the critics. They were 100% wrong on this one. IT'S GREAT!
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Unconditional is truly inspirational!
holyphoenix-463611 May 2015
Unconditional is a true story about Sam (Amy Parker), played by Linn Collins and (Joe Bradford) played by Michael Ealy. Once good childhood friends are reunited by fate after a tragic accident. Just as Sam is hitting rock bottom after the accident she meets two young children that leads up to her long lost childhood friend who happens to be looking after a group of fatherless children. Back when Joe Bradford and Sam where in Elementary school Joe was looked at differently because he was one of the only African American kids in the united states to go to a white kid's school. Despite all of this he met a young girl named Sam, who sat with him at lunch. Soon after Sam was treated meanly because she was hanging around a black kid. Many years have passed and even though they have not seen each other in a very long time, their friendship has not wavered. The first thing Joe does when they meet after a very long time is give her his address. Without delay, the next day she goes to visit him and discovers that he lives in a poor neighborhood. When she arrives at his house she discovers that Joe is looking after a group of kids and begins playing with them, really getting involved. I believe Brent McCorkle truly excelled in his director position. He picked very skilled actors, as they portrayed the emotions to a very high area of expertise. Normally I would not prefer a movie with extensive flash backs, but the actors played it in such a way that the audience would truly want to know what occurred in the past, and very much flowed in an understandable way. The filming backgrounds looked very realistic most of the time and the characters had certain clothing and hairstyles that so beautifully matched the circumstances of the character's situation and surroundings, and the housing and structures of the scenes fit right into the settings. The music of the movie really let you into what the characters where thinking and therefor allowed the movie to touch your heart and, in some small way, allow you to feel what they felt.
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Everybody Deserves Unconditional Love
a-8511728 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The film unconditional tells a wonderful true story about unconditional love. Characters woman named Sam (Linn Collins) and a man named Papa Joe (Michael Ealy) they were best friends as kids that reunite later in life after tragedy in their lives. Papa Joe has set given everything he had to help kids in need. Papa Joe does everything he can do for the children, love and affection. Papa Joe has had a rough life he had been in jail until he needed medical treatment. Sam went through a major tragedy that made her scared and alert at all times she didn't know what might to happen to her. I feel the film was directed well by Brent McCorkle. The actors Linn Collins and Michael Ealy played there parts as Sam and Papa Joe very well they convey the characters very well. Sam showed high emotion towards the drawling that she drew to the ones that the little girl drew. Sam also showed the depression after the tragedy happened to her. Papa Joe played being very sick quite well along with being loving and affectionate person.

The film seemed to be filmed in realistic places in Tennessee to convey the characters and their story well the cars shown represented the time period very well. They used appropriate music to convey the movies story line at an average level some parts could have better but the music did get the point across in some parts and there were parts that make you feel the actions and feelings that the characters are playing.

I feel the movie could have been longer because there are parts of the movie that were short and strait to another point and they should have explained more and show the reactions and feelings of the characters. A positive of the movie is the story as the movie is based off of a true story of the two people.

I would recommend this movie because this film is great for most ages and the story is a great true story about unconditional love as the children in the story don't have dads and that's why they call Joe Bradford Papa Joe. I give this film a 4 out of 5 stars because the movie had parts that could have been explained more than they were but other than that the movie was great. It was everything I expected and was a truly inspirational film.
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every child needs a papa Joe in there life.
n-8076327 April 2015
The film unconditional tells a true story of love and heartbreak. A woman's (Lynn Collins) underwent a tragedy that shattered her perfect country life. She begins to take matters into her own hands, until two out of the blue encounters change her life.

The film (directed by Brent McCorkle) was directed very well, it was a very emotional movie. The actors played there parts almost perfectly, making this true story a pleasure to watch. The actor Michael ealy who played papa Joe portrayed the real life man very well, he seemed to really understand the struggles the real man went through.

And the actor who played Samantha, Lynn Collins, portrays her very well, acting perfectly for the part, making the story flow very well. The flash back scenes blended perfectly in with the story, explain a lot of detail to help the person watching understand what happened in the past. There was no addition or subtraction from the story, everything was spot on and told as it happened in real life. The film backgrounds were very realistic, as most of them were not shot on a set, but in actual places. The world around the characters is very realistic with the time period, with factual cars, hairstyles, and technologies of the time.

The musical score of the movie played its part very well, making it very emotional and moving. The music helped set the tone for the movie, with it varying in different parts accordingly.

Over all, the film was very well done. It conveyed heavy emotions, making even myself shed a tear at some spots. If you're looking for a very emotional real life drama and love story, look no further.

I would recommend this film if you're looking for a tear jerker, a good emotional ride. This movie is a haven for those seeking drama and a love story, this is the movie for you. Out of 5 stars, I give this film 4, it's a very solid movie. It may have its flaws in some places, but the good outweigh the bad, making the flaws look insignificant.
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