This is the story of Jo, an awkward teenager with a sensitive spirit, whose situation and calling feels too great for her to handle. We see the world through Jo’s eyes. Layering the mundane with the fantastical, using magical realism to allow us to step into the surreal depths of her turmoil. When Jo hears a voice, calling on her to expose the brokenness at home, she wonders if she is going mad; being tormented by her own conflicting thoughts. That evening her mum seems happier, leading Jo and her little sister Beth to hope that things might be improving. Unfortunately, the opposite is true and tensions rise rapidly. Jo is beaten, her presence blamed for everything as she’s thrown out of the house. She runs for miles against the rain, hoping that her absence will calm the proverbial storm, protecting Beth. Collapsing inside the sanctuary of an old chapel, Jo’s surreal thoughts start consuming her. She cries out for help and forgiveness, wrestling until she loses all strength, falling into darkness. Morning light bleeds through the sky as Jo finds herself lying in a muddy puddle, outside the chapel, ready to talk.
This film is inspired by the first two books of Jonah. Jo is representative of Jonah, Jo’s mother represents the wickedness of Ninevah that Jo is called on to expose and the chapel represents the belly of the whale. At the end of Jonah 2, Jonah resolves to go to Ninevah and speak out against its fallen ways. However I will leave this story more open ended, simply with a suggestion that Jo has reached a place of resolve. Jo’s story deals with a complex and emotionally layered reality, something I will approach with deep sensitivity. It is not a situation that would have a cut and dry ending. Therefore, the end of the film will be slightly ambiguous in order to honour this. Everyone will experience a time when they know the right thing to do but fear paralyses them and they step away. As a child, this type of challenge takes an even greater bravery to overcome. The story of Jonah is all about God’s endless compassion, about second chances and that even the most unlikely of us can be called to do something that may feel impossibly overwhelming. Yet responding to the call can liberate both ourselves and others.