The 1986 short film, Consider It All Joy, features one of my favorite scene transitions.
Newly married Claire (Bonnie Hawley) and David (Gary Costello) kiss while sitting in front of the fireplace. One jump cut later and Claire is smiling and pregnant and David has a look on his face that says, “My boys can swim!” That’s about as close as any faith-based film will ever get to acknowledging that two people, even two married people, have not only had sex but that they actually enjoyed having sex and that they probably had sex more than once. Of course, it helps that Hawley and Costello had a lot of chemistry and they just seemed like they belonged together as a couple. They’re totally believable as one of those married couples who rarely fight and yet don’t annoy their friends with their happiness.
The other thing that Consider It All Joy has is a lot of wood paneling. I wouldn’t say that every room in this film has wood paneling but enough of them do that, as I watched, I found myself saying, “That’s a lot of wood paneling.” But that makes sense. This is a low-budget, indie film that was shot in the 80s. It was designed for a very specific audience and there’s nothing particularly slick or overly stylized about it. Watching the film, the viewer gets the feeling that the majority of it was filmed in someone’s house, as opposed to on a set. The actors probably wore their own clothes. In many ways, the film itself feels like a time capsule. Until time machines are invented, watching a film like this might be the closest that one could get to witnessing the 80s firsthand.
As for the film itself, it tells the story of Claire dealing with the sudden death of David. The majority of the film is told in flashback so we watch all of the scenes of them meeting, courting, marrying, and starting a family with a sense of dread. As happy as they are, we know that it’s not going to last. When David is laid off from his job, he refuses to get upset and instead tells his boss that he knows everything will work out because he has faith and that God will provide. Everyone at the office is apparently really impressed with David’s good attitude. Of course, they’re not impressed enough to keep him around and to continue to pay his salary. Personally, I think they’re getting off easy but then again, everything that I know about downsizing and corporate America comes from the second season of The Office.
David does eventually find a new job and it turns out to be a far better one than he previously had! However, no sooner has David left for work than the police show up at the door and tell Claire that he’s been killed in an auto accident. At first, Claire is angry but then she remembers David’s faith and she decides to consider it all joy. The film ends with her witnessing to one of David’s friends, with the suggestion being that Claire might not be single for long!
As I’ve said before, I have a weakness for low-budget indie films, especially ones that pretty much epitomize the era in which it was made. This is pretty earnest film and I doubt that it will change the minds of anyone who doesn’t already agree with its message but Bonnie Hawley and Gary Costello are a believable couple and the film couldn’t be more 80s if it tried.
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