A Shaken Fireman Faces His Moment of Truth in Midlife Crisis Drama
In Before “I Do”, Jensen Atwood plays Caleb Abrams, who was almost married, but remains single. A year ago, his former fiancee, Asia, played by Michelle D. Ivy, broke off their engagement the night before their wedding. The buff Baltimore fireman rededicated himself to his career, and has pursued his love for painting in his spare time, but he hasn’t gotten over Asia leaving.
After extinguishing a fire in an abandoned farmhouse, everything changes for Caleb. Inside the farmhouse, he finds the body of a homeless man, played by Edgar Gregory. This find shakes him to the core. Caleb finds himself crying on the shoulder of his pal Shelby, played by Omar Gooding. Shelby is a veteran firefighter who warns his young buddy, “you’re going to see a lot of things you wish you could forget.”
The tragedy continues to take an emotional toll on Caleb. At one point, his roommate, Imani, played by Danielle Ward, asks, “Are you ever going to paint again?” Caleb admits, “I lost my passion,” and then he conveniently turns the tables, by challenging her to finish the book she’s been writing for the last decade.
Caleb’s father, Pastor Spoon Abrams, played by Michael Pittman, notices that his son hasn’t been to his church for a long time. “Are you too busy for the Lord?” he asks, adding, “It’s time for you to grow up.”
Now Caleb has multiple problems to contemplate. First, he is almost 40, and he suddenly finds himself thinking about his mortality. He’s also worrying about growing old alone, even though he’s now dating Breanna, played by Andrea Kelly. Unfortunately for Caleb this new relationship doesn’t fill the void left by the loss of Asia, and the traumatizing image of the hobo’s corpse will not get out of his head.
Caleb seems to be on his own, holding onto his youth, while his friends adjust to adulthood just fine. Shelby and his wife, Jasmyn, played by Kathleen Purcell-Turner, eagerly expect their first child. Marlon, played by Lamar Barnes, and his room-mate Imani just announced their engagement. She asks Caleb to serve as Best Man when they marry.
There are nore skeletons waiting to burst out of the closet in Before “I Do,” the latest offering from the very talented executive producer, Kimberly D. Conner. Besides writing and directing, Conner also co-produced and has a supporting role in the film, as the coroner.
Superb acting from this top-flight cast makes it feel as though you’re watching a real-life story. It is a character-driven drama that deftly interweaves several compelling plotlines all the way to a satisfying, if cleverly-concealed resolution it would be a crime to divulge. Rather than insert a spoiler here in this intriguing urban soap opera, I will instead close with these lines excepted from the poem “I Am Woman,” a touching tribute to black females recited by Imani:
“I am woman, minus the thighs and flowing hair
Proud of my rich skin tone, coarse hair and full lips
I am a woman with a story to tell
And a past as deep and dark as my roots
I am a woman, and despite what you think
When you look down your nose upon me
I possess dreams, aspirations and knowledge.”
Kudos to Kimberly D. Conner and the whole crew for making a thoroughly thought-provoking, cinematic treat designed to simultaneously elevate, enlighten and entertain.
Before “I Do”
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 60 minutes
Studio: Predestined Arts & Entertainment / New Millennial
Before “I Do” Trailer
Watch the Before “I Do” trailer