From the outset Abel’s Field seems to be a film abounding in cliché, portraying an archetypal American picture with its inclusion of football, cheerleaders, high school bullies and our hero, the misfit. The latter comes in the form of Seth, a high school student tasked with looking after his two younger sisters after his mother passes away, his father abandons them and his older brother cuts him out of his life. The stereotype of the American setting is extended by placing the story in Texas, further compounded by its Christian themes and virtually all-white cast. The Christian aspect features heavily in the film, but would have been more effective if it was allegorical rather than a blatant copy and paste from the Bible.
Nevertheless, the film has a positive message effectively delivered by decent performances from the actors who, for the most part, are given strong characters to work with. Seth’s little sisters are sickly sweet little girls intended to butter us up and invoke sympathy, but Seth himself is a decently drawn out young man, hardworking and well-meaning but not always perfect. Abel, who becomes something of a mentor to Seth, is too broody too often. The biggest surprise comes in the form of the coach, who starts out just like every other rough and shouty American football coach we’ve seen on screen, only to reveal a gentler and kinder side. Although some of the characters are just padding for the story, many of them are given an opportunity to mature and shine.
The film builds up nicely, realistically portraying tough scenarios and even tougher choices, but the ending is too easy. The film makes its message clear, but not its ending and the efficacy of what it is trying to say is unfortunately a little lost in the ease of the resolution.