Whenever a movie is made about a real life tragedy, there’s always a sense of urgency to get all of the facts straight. Especially when the film is produced by a family member. I read Rachel’s Tears back in high school, over ten years ago, which is what got me interested in the Columbine massacre. (I should probably point out that the book wasn’t assigned in class. My mom let me borrow it. I know if I don’t point that out people with get mad thinking that a school assigned a religious book)
Rachel Joy Scott died at Columbine High School on 20 April 1999. I didn’t read the book until 2004. And yet, Rachel inspired me then and still inspires me to this day. I wasn’t even actually a Christian yet when I read it, and still her life influenced me. I realize how weird this may sound, but even though I never knew her, she feels like a friend. I lost a friend before I even knew her.
I say all of this so that you understand that when I watched this movie, it wasn’t just another Christian movie, or even just another “based on real events” movie. It was like seeing the life of a friend being adapted into a movie. When I first heard about it and watched the trailer, I was extremely excited. I even purchased the updated 10 year anniversary edition of Rachel’s Tears and reread it. So when I watched the movie tonight, it was fresh on my mind.
I will come right out and say this; This movie disappointed me almost immediately. They changed several key moments in her life to fit their own narrative they wanted to do. For starters, Rachel says early in the movie that she’s not spiritual, essentially dismissing being a believer. In the next scene she goes to spend the summer with religious family and is annoyed, and even criticizes them. But then she abruptly converts. In reality, she wasn’t ever a nonbeliever, at least not the scoffer type. Also, she was saved when she was eleven, not sixteen like in the movie. They made it seem like she was only a Christian the last year of her life.
Her motivations were likewise changed in the movie. She wasn’t motivated by wanting a boyfriend. She wasn’t interested in that at all. In fact, she was starting to date this guy but he didn’t have the same end goals as her, so she ended it so that the relationship wouldn’t interfere with her relationship with God. In the movie, the relationship ended because he sleeps with her bestfriend and she walks in on them, and most of the rest of the film is her trying to forgive them.
Speaking of the “boyfriend” Alex. In real life, she had a passion for acting. That’s why she was missing Break Thru for the play rehearsals. But in the film, she was in the play to spend more time with Alex. In fact, she cut her hair and dyed it for the play, that’s how committed she was. When she died, she had shoulder-length hair. She never cuts or dyes her hair in the film. Because she’s just there for Alex.
There are many other little changes that annoyed me, but some are just nitpicking. Like, her mother gave her the journal in real life, and her aunt did on the trip where she’s saved. She worked at Subway in reality, and a generic coffee shop in the film (but I understand this one to an extent. Copyright and all of that. They could have made it a generic sandwich shop).
In reality, Rachel and Dylan Klebold started to become friends at one point, and he even started to like her. In the film, they have one encounter. If they wanted to go in the high school drama route, they easily could have left this in and upped the drama! He likes her, but Eric Harris wants to kill her, and he’s conflicted. It adds more character than “Imma just follow Eric blindly”.
There’s other changes, but like I told my girlfriend in a long rant I sent her after finishing the film and which parts of this review was copied and pasted from, I eventually stopped taking notes because there was too many changes to keep up with.
There was a few things that they kept in, though. “Queen Rachel”, even though it was just for a scene at the beginning, and she felt in the last few years of her life that she didn’t have long. Both were in the film, and considering all the changes, I was surprised to see them kept in.
I had assumed that her family likely didn’t have much to do with the film, which explained the changes. But then I got to the credits. Her mother, Beth Nimmo, was an executive producer on the film. Yet she let her daughter be so misrepresented that I couldn’t even tell it was supposed to be Rachel Joy Scott.
But I will take a moment to praise the actress who played her, Masey McLain. She did an excellent job with the script she was given. She was so full of life and positive energy when she needed to, and just gloomy depression when she needed to. As much as I dislike the film, I look forward to seeing what she does next. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, so I don’t know what that is.
Now onto the most important aspect of the film; the Christian aspect. Does it spread the message of the Gospel, or tell you how to be saved, or anything like that? Well, not really. When Rachel is saved, it shows her approaching the alter crying, then cuts to her jumping off a dock. They talk about praying a lot, and actually show people praying. It has her narrating spiritual scenes with the actual (or sometimes slightly altered to fit the scene) words of Rachel. When it’s important that she’s a Christian, the film lets you know. Otherwise, it’s usually just used by others to tease her.
I give this film a 7 out of 10. Even though it’s not the truth about Rachel, I do at least like that they tried showing that she went out of her way to help people. They also got her death right, word for word. It was actually shocking how graphic that scene was. I thought everything would happen off camera, but you actually see her getting shot up. Which was probably for the best in this case to show the horror of the tragedy.
But if you want to know the real story of Rachel Joy Scott, read Rachel’s Tears by her parents, Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo