Review: A Brave Hope

Directed by Benjamin Ironside Koppin and co-written with Matthew John Koppin, a documentary following Rebekah Hughes, a light of hope despite her multiple battles with cancer. She inspires others to live positive lives throughout the darkest trials.

You’d be hard pressed to find a person whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer in one way or another, whether personally, a friend or a family member, it’s a destructive force that can take people by surprise or become a relentless battle. It’s made appearances in a lot of film and television usually as a vehicle for sadness and death, but Koppin is bringing a story of hope, resilience and faith through Rebekah Hughes’ tale. As an audience we get bombarded with stories of bravery through superheroes, detectives and soldiers but rarely do we get a story of an everyday person battling a deadly force with steadfast spirit and determination, so this film gives a fresh perspective on heroes.

We quickly learn that Rebekah Hughes’ life wasn’t all puppies and rainbows before cancer struck, she had a difficult childhood with a mentally ill father, so it may not have been the first hurdle she tackled but another thing that swiftly becomes clear, is that she didn’t let any of it hold her down. As we follow her story, the amount of hardship that she has had to go through is reasonably more than a lot of people could take but what’s completely transparent is that she holds a remarkable amount of strength and an unbreakable faith. It’s not unknown for people struggling with the difficulties they’re facing to begin to lose their belief but impressively, Hughes is quite the opposite, her constant faith in a bigger plan is remarkable and ultimately leads her down the right path. Her attitude and strength are an inspiration, while a lot of the details are heart-breaking, what comes through stronger is her positivity and refusal to give in to darkness. She’s extremely charismatic and full of generosity and kindness, she doesn’t have a bad word to say despite her terrible experiences and it’s utterly captivating and touching.

The direction does well to add different perspectives, from her family and husband, as well as additional views from Hughes through the use of her diary entries which was a nice touch to really get to the heart of her experience. There’s also a nice mix of open landscape shots to add more atmosphere to the visual and also refrains from the story feeling like it’s trapped within one household, it represents a wider experience and Hughes’ determination to get out and live life. One of the very respectable choices was to go one step further with its honesty and openness, as to include video content of Hughes while using CBD oil to ease her pain, resulting in a lot of inexplicable laughing and a hallucination of Lilo & Stitch, it’s extremely intimate and frank. As well as adding the romantic element of how she met her husband Joel and their relationship which is a testament to generosity and commitment. A lovely thing to hear also is Hughes’ experience with her healthcare professionals, the medical systems in any country can be far from perfect so to recount her doctors’ pro-active, supportive attitudes is delightful.

Although its religious theme does come through strongly and there are instances of reading bible verses that helped Hughes, it doesn’t override the more universal message of the story, a message of hope, resilience and strength. A Brave Hope delves deeply into Rebekah Hughes’ experiences, it’s intimate and extremely personal but it doesn’t shy away from the details and her relentlessly positive attitude keeps the darkness of her tale at bay. The ways in which Hughes dealt with the difficulties she was handed is an inspiration, that sort of unbreakable faith is enviable, and her personal strength is remarkable. With the aim of this film being to tell a story of hope in times of struggle, of refusing to give up and trying to live life to the fullest, it succeeds without question.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

You can find out more about the film and watch the trailer here

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