The song is a story (as all good Country songs are) of a boy and a girl. The little boy is going fishing with his daddy and doesn’t want the girl to come along. “Daddy, please don’t take the girl.” Then he’s a teenager on a date and protecting the girl at his side. “Please, don’t take the girl.” Then he’s a new Daddy begging God to spare the life of his wife. “God take me instead. Please, don’t take the girl…”
“To Joey, With Love” is the story of a boy and a girl (as all good movies are). Joey meets Rory at The Bluebird Cafe. They fall in love and get married. Together they become a famous Country music duo. Then Rory is Daddy to a brand new baby girl and he’s on his knees begging God to spare the life of his wife Joey.
“To me, I think country music is real life. It’s conversation, people talkin’ across the fence from one yard to another. Talkin’ about the things that matter to them, whether that’s love or life or politics or faith, or whatever it is. Country music is a piece of America–the musical piece of America that we all need to keep us going.”
–Rory Feek in an interview with The 9513
Like every good movie, “To Joey, With Love” pulls you into the moment and makes you feel like you were right there. But unlike “Shadowlands” or “The Vow”, “To Joey, With Love” is not filled with actors that look vaguely like the original characters in the story. “To Joey, With Love” was filmed live, on location, as it happened. Raw and real, it may feel a tiny bit rough at times as movies go. But any lack in cinematography is made up for in the beauty of the story itself.
From the birth of their little Indiana to the growth of Joey’s garden, the windmill and their farmhouse provide a scenic backdrop to the private scenes from their seemingly perfect life. Then, when tragedy strikes and you see Joey fail in body before your eyes, you get a very poignant peek into their home.
“Country music, to me, just in terms of how it influenced me as a little girl, I think country music is stories. It’s what touches people and what impacts them. And to me, it was a healing tool–if I was upset or hurting or sad, I’d go out and get on my horse and sing country songs, ‘cause I’d cry through ‘em, but then after I got done crying I felt so much better. And I still feel that way. I dig out those Emmylou records, those Dolly records, and have me a good cry and I feel better. So to me, Country music is healing.”
–Joey Feek in an interview with The 9513
In each frame, you see the joy on Joey’s face and the peace in Rory’s. You hear the love Joey has for her husband and daughter in every little song she sings. You hear their faith and love in the heartfelt and poetic narration of Country songwriter Rory Feek himself. “To Joey, With Love” is a work of love, a tribute to a life well lived. But more than just a tear-jerking movie, Joey Martin and Rory Feek’s story is a powerful testimony of faith, hope, and love.
“To Joey, With Love” is the kind of movie everyone should watch regularly. Not only does it make you grateful for every day you have together with your loved ones, but it also makes you want to slow down and savor each moment.
Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the fleeting nature of life before it’s too late. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of how much we love the people we live with day in and day out. Sometimes, we need to know that God still makes beautiful stories out of ashes.
That’s why I’m ordering more copies of “To Joey, With Love” to give as Christmas presents this year–for my single friends, as well as the married ones.
Do you have a favorite movie that encourages you to love your spouse and family better?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the DVD and an early screening in exchange for an honest review. But you know I don’t recommend things I don’t genuinely love!
Photography: Hannah Acheson