A Right to Life Parable.
Meant to Be is very much a “right to life” film, which is its greatest strength and also what will draw drive people away. I enjoyed the twist to the tale and though I felt the ending kind of faltered a bit, overall it was a satisfying movie.
Nathan (Bradley Dorsey, Fulcrum) has lost his job and his girlfriend, and can’t seem to find anything to write about besides. His lack of direction leads him to question his life, specifically who he is. He was raised in foster care and decides that now is the perfect time to try and find his birth mother.
While Nathan’s storyline is arguably enough to fill out its own movie, Meant to Be creates a world of intertwined characters with their own storylines.
Mike (Dean Cain, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Linda (Erika Eleniak, Baywatch) are facing empty nest syndrome, and while Mike is adjusting, Linda isn’t. One of the things she’s obsessing about is the baby she gave up decades ago. The other is Tori, (Erin Sossamon, Make It or Break It) a high school senior and budding photographer whose family life is less than desirable. When Linda, a Child Protection Services worker, gets a domestic violence call, she becomes Tori’s confidante. Tori has an unexpected pregnancy and a drunk for a father, but she’s been offered a chance at a Parisian fellowship. And when Tori lets slip she’s considering abortion, Linda tells Tori that God has plans for her baby.
Meanwhile Nathan has shown up in the town he believes he was born in and checked into a hotel, where he meets Mave, the maid (Della Reese, Touched by an Angel), who adopts the role of caretaker, and Shelly (Kristen Renton, Sons of Anarchy), an adoptee who helps him track down the potential women who might be his birth mother. This town is of course where Linda, Mike, and Tori also live, and we know the inevitable outcome.
Or at least we think we do. I’ll give Dorsey credit: he wrote, directed, and stars in Meant to Be and he managed a twist I honestly didn’t guess. But to divulge it would be to take away something from the film and I don’t want to do that. However, once the twist is revealed, the movie does lose some steam. Plus the ending glosses over some legitimately raised questions, leaving the viewer to wonder about what has happened, or what we believe has happened. Meant to Be is very definitive in what side of the abortion debate it falls, yet I couldn’t help but want to see that same commitment to every character’s arc in the story. To leave the characters without fully realized resolutions felt off.
And the characters did for the most part feel fully fleshed out. Reese’s Mave did seem to be a bit like her Touched By An Angel character Tess, that’s not to say she wasn’t any good. She’s getting those types of roles because she is so good at playing a mothering character. Cain and Eleniak played off each other well, injecting the right amount of tension for a couple who find themselves dealing with a new stage of their lives. Dorsey read as lost, and while I didn’t feel a lot of chemistry between him and Renton, her Shelly was exactly the kind of sweet and down-to-earth character Nathan needed.
Meant to Be will find favor with those who already are “pro-life” or who at least have an open mind to the concept. Staunch advocates for “choice” will not find a lot to praise here.
In terms of tech specs, there are some typical low budget problems. There are my personal pet peeves of obvious ADR as well as shaky cam. The palette was a little on the pale side; the video feed not the strongest it could be. The audio was solid aside from the aforementioned isolation of the track at times. However I found Meant to Be engaging enough where I didn’t really find the issues to detract too much.
The bonus feature is a behind-the-scenes look at some of the shoot, including brief interview clips.
Meant to Be is a divisive film, regardless of the acknowledgement of a different options for a teenage girl facing an unexpected pregnancy. It’s a good film for those interested in the topic but for anyone who finds religious motivations in their films not to be to their liking, I’d advise you skip Meant to Be.