Be the Light parents guide

Be the Light Parent Guide

The message is better than the movie.

Overall B

Digital on Demand: When Celina learns that her father is dying of cancer, she's motivated to heal the breach between them.

Release date September 11, 2020

Violence B
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A-
Substance Use C

Why is Be the Light rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Be the Light Not Rated

Run Time: 109 minutes

Parent Movie Review

“Every note is a feeling and that feeling is the beginning of a story.” So says Ramon (Michael DeLorenzo), singer and songwriter. If that sentiment applies to this film, there are clearly a few wrong notes because this well-intentioned tale falls flat in a couple of spots.

Ramon is a musician who always doted on his daughter, Celina (played as a child by Layla Solano and as an adult by Cara Santana). When his wife died and Celina got pregnant, Ramon cast her off in shame and anger, sinking into a life of loneliness. Now, Celina and her daughter, Maria (Aaliyah Lopez) live in a trailer and Celina flirts with men and downs shots to numb her emotions. Then she learns that her father has terminal cancer.

Be the Light sounds like a reworked version of the parable of the prodigal son, which it is. It’s a story of second chances for hurting souls and of the dangers of being the “other prodigal” – the faithful son who bitterly judges his returning brother. The second chance motif is well represented by Ramon, Celina and their friend, Marvin (Malcolm Goodwin), a man who was wrongfully convicted of theft as a teen, leading to years of criminal behavior. Marvin has turned his life around and hopes to build a support network for anyone else who needs help. He wants to raise money to fund the medical care that Ramon’s insurance company refuses to cover.

Lashing out against Marvin is a man who “weaponizes piety”, Pastor Spencer (Tom Cavanagh), standing in for the angry older brother in the parable. Bitter over their shared past, the Pastor refuses to believe that Marvin is sincere in his desire to help others, so he does his best to undermine Marvin’s efforts. But he doesn’t count on the power of community.

Be the Light is a religious film that avoids overt discussions of faith, substituting instead themes of inclusion, friendship, accountability, forgiveness, and love. Its earnest belief that everyone is entitled to a second chance; that we are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done, is a positive message that can be appreciated by viewers of any age or faith (or lack thereof). With very minimal content issues, this production sails in at a PG level and can be safely viewed by families, although it’s over the heads of young children.

Unfortunately, the film also comes with some downsides. In particular, it lacks tension. Despite its attempts to avoid predictable plot elements, the final ending is not hard to figure out. The movie also suffers from a dreadful subplot. Pastor Spencer is a terrible character, lacking nuance and written as a straight up movie villain, but one without any sort of sensible motivation or redeeming features. If you want an interesting conflict in a film, you need to create an intriguing antagonist. Sadly, the Pastor is as unbelievable as he is mean. Also subpar is the music, which sounds like paint-by-number tunes from a soft rock Christian music channel and is so forgettable I couldn’t hum any of the tracks to save my life. Hopefully that won’t happen to the movie’s message, which is worth remembering, even if the rest of the film is unremarkable.

Directed by Malcolm Goodwin. Starring Cara Santana, Michael DeLorenzo, Malcolm Goodwin. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release September 11, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Be the Light

Be the Light
Rating & Content Info

Why is Be the Light rated Not Rated? Be the Light is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence:   A man strikes his son.
Sexual Content: A woman wears a t-shirt with a very wide cleavage. There is mention of a guy possibly getting “handsy”. A woman kisses a man “to release tension”. A man and woman kiss.
Profanity: A minor profanity is heard in conversation and another one is heard in a song lyric.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   A main character is shown intoxicated and downing shots until she passes out.  A main character drinks hard liquor out of the bottle. Main characters smoke cigarettes. There is mention of past marijuana use on the part of a main character.

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Be the Light Parents' Guide

Marvin encourages people to post what they want to be known for. What do you want to be known for? Why is this important to you?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Be the Light movie is February 8, 2020. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

The prodigal son is an archetypal story that has been retold in many ways. For another perspective on the tale in a modern context you can watch here. A traditional retelling is available here.

Forgiveness is a theme frequently covered in movies. We recommend The Shack, The Railway Man, Invictus, and Les Miserables.