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All children want to hear their fathers say, “I love you.” Unfortunately, for many dads those three words are impossible to speak.

Jake (Seth Bowling) is a successful lawyer flirting with a drinking problem that could ruin his career. His father, Herb (Nick Searcy), a best-selling novelist and Vietnam war hero, was emotionally distant and physically absent when Jake needed him most. Like many dads of that generation, Herb was never good at showing affection. Hurting and self-absorbed, Jake hardly has the time or patience to watch his dad interviewed on TV or talk to him on the phone when he calls on Jake’s birthday. He certainly has no desire to read his father’s novels, which regularly arrive on his doorstep with every new release.

Undeterred, Herb himself shows up at Jake’s door, bound to a wheelchair and hooked up to a breathing machine. With just a couple months left to live and many regrets, Herb has written his most personal novel yet, and he’s there to make sure Jake gets it. On a forced vacation from the law firm, Jake has no excuses left. No excuses not to spend a few days with dad. No excuses not to read the new book.

Herb’s final novel, The Man from Nowhere, is dedicated to the man who led him to Christ. But Herb wrote it for Jake. Herb wrote it to say all the things he can’t bring himself to speak. A detective story about a hard-boiled private eye, Gamble (Anthony Tyler Quinn), it’s the tale of a man searching for his son and the lengths he’s willing to go to find him. The movie transitions between the real world of Jake and Herb and the stylized film noir world of the novel.

As he reads, Jake finds himself connecting with Gamble, imagining conversations with the character, even as he continues to clash with his father. The wound between Jake and Herb is old, and once the emotional boil is lanced, there’s a lot of poison that needs to come out. Jake challenges his dad over coffee, demanding to know if he wasn’t dying if he’d still be there.

It’s an ugly question, and Herb has every right to respond with an ugly response. Instead, he simply says, “I hope so.”

Clocking in at just an hour and 20 minutes, The Man from Nowhere manages to pack in more story and emotion than many films that are twice as long. Searcy, the only recognizable star in this low-budget film, brings a quiet elegance to what would be pure cheese in less capable hands. So while it has all the hallmarks of a Christian movie, The Man from Nowhere never feels thin. There’s love on the screen, even if the word is hard to say. (Filmbandit)

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