Ever have trouble getting people you love to embrace your life dreams? You’ll likely identify with Ryan Wade in The Identical.
Music is in his soul. He has the looks, voice and moves of Elvis, and drives audiences wild. But his preacher father has different dreams for him, setting up a monumental collision.
What unfolds is a fun Rock ‘n’ Roll parable with an upbeat, inspiring, message about finding purpose, revealing secrets, and experiencing redemption. Tunes get you swaying and romantic odes touch your heart as they depict young love, discovering identity, and learning what really matters.
This fictional story spans four decades from the 1930s Great Depression to the 1970s. We see early Rock evolve as Ryan (Blake Rayne) seeks to find his way. He loves to sing, but his father (Ray Liotta; Goodfellas, Field of Dreams) wants him in the ministry. His mother (Ashley Judd; Divergent, High Crimes) quietly observes their interaction without choosing sides.
Ryan memorizes Bible verses as a child and attends Bible college as a young man. But African-American R&B captivates his heart. When Drexel Hemsley—the film’s Elvis-esque figure—tops the music charts, the mesmerized Ryan feels he knows what Drexel “The Dream” is thinking. The two are dead ringers (Rayne plays both parts); Ryan insists to inquirers they’re not related.
But we know they are, identical twins separated at birth. Their impoverished parents, amid mutual anguish, invited the Wades—childless after multiple miscarriages—to adopt one boy. Pledged to secrecy, the Wades raised Ryan as their own.
Ryan pursues a music career—eventually as “The Identical,” a Drexel Hemsley impersonator—triggering painful family explosions. His mom accepts reality first, advising Ryan, “The love of God seeks us in every situation and desires our good. If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them.”
Ryan explains to his disappointed father: “I’m just trying to be what He made me to be, and not something else.” Biblical statements his dad had him memorize as a kid foreshadow his journey:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.'”
Ryan is ever the consummate gentleman in dating, marriage, and with adoring fans. In the end, all this confusion and conflict comes to… well, I won’t spoil it for you. But I’ll wrap with some fun facts, plus a personal reflection.
Fun facts; personal reflection
It’s not surprising that an Elvis-esque story includes twins and spiritual themes. The real Elvis Presley’s twin brother, Jessie, was stillborn. Elvis often experienced survivor guilt and a desire to know him. Elvis’ only Grammy Award for a single came for his 1974 recording of “How Great Thou Art,” a famous hymn. The lyrics, which likely reflected his own spiritual roots, point to hope beyond human accomplishment.
I can identify with a son whose dreams conflict with those of his parents—which is probably the reason this film resonates with me. After finding faith during university, I sought a career with a Christian nonprofit, much to my parents’ dismay. My mother enlisted an attorney friend to try to convince me to attend law school. But my heart was set on helping spread worldwide the faith that had transformed me. Eventually, my folks accepted the inevitable.
Fifteen years later, my father told me he thought what I was doing was extremely worthwhile, a deeply validating affirmation. “If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them,” counseled Ashley Judd’s character in the movie. She was right.
The Identical opens in theaters September 5.
Learn more at www.theidenticalmovie.com.
— by Rusty Wright
Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com