Real-life characters face tests of faith in a war zone and on the home front in “Indivisible,” an intelligent drama based on the experiences of decorated Army Chaplain Darren Turner, who was deployed to Iraq in 2007 not long after seminary and basic training, and his wife Heather, who raised their three young children while helping to provide a support system for other military wives at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Capably directed by David G. Evans (“The Grace Card”) and earnestly performed by a proficient cast, this inspirational indie conceivably could extend its appeal beyond the customary audience for faith-based entertainment, despite obvious indications — the combat soldiers here may be the most profanity-averse fighting men and women in any war movie in recent memory — that gritty realism is not a high priority for the filmmakers.
Chaplain Darren Turner (Justin Bruening) arrives in Baghdad more or less as a greenhorn, eager to provide spiritual comfort for soldiers but not entirely sure how to reach them. He is encouraged by his commanding officer (Eric Close, recently of TV’s “Nashville”) and a battle-tested aide (a standout Skye P. Marshall), but challenged by a cynical veteran of multiple tours (Jason George of “Station 19”) and a rifleman (Tanner Stine) who demandingly questions why a supposedly loving and protective God would allow innocents to perish as collateral damage. Darren’s triumphs are incremental — and, in some cases, short-lived.
Back home, Heather Turner (Sarah Drew) struggles gamely to balance responsibilities for raising three young children (who, of course, always demand attention even when mom is trying to focus on something else) and volunteer work as a resource for other Army wives, offering comfort to new widows. Heather yearns for the day when her husband will return home and make their family unit whole again. But when he does get back from the war, unfortunately, Darren brings it home with him.
Indeed, Darren is so emotionally distant and quick to anger, the result of survivor’s guilt and PTSD, it appears that only a miracle can save their marriage. To their considerable credit, the makers of “Indivisible” — including director Evans and co-writers Cheryl McKay Price and Peter White — acknowledge that, more often than not, miracles occur by virtue of the determination, hard work, and intervention of mere mortals who want to pay back for their own blessings. Just as important, the movie also admits, by way of another chaplain authoritatively portrayed by veteran character actor Michael O’Neill, that faith may not be faith at all unless it can withstand serious reexamination.
Filmed on Tennessee and California locations that convincingly double for everything from Fort Stewart to Iraq, “Indivisible” feels impressively edgy during battle scenes, especially during a suspenseful firefight set in the streets of Al Sakhar Province. As attention-grabbing as those sequences are, however, the movie likely will be best remembered for realistically depicting long, dark nights of the soul when, to paraphrase The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” even a true believer might have his moments of doubt and pain.