A Review of ‘Indivisible’ and an Interview with Actress Sarah Drew

Indivisible is a tribute to the sacrifices of military chaplains and a testimony to the power of the sacrament of matrimony, but its shallow theology stands out

(photo: Register Files)

“War is hell,” said William Tecumseh Sherman, and the movie Indivisible gives an idea how far and wide the flames spread.

Army chaplain Darren Turner (played by Justin Brueing) has a wonderful marriage and three children. Heather (played by Sarah Drew) and Darren share a strong faith that reflects on their daily lives. This picture-perfect family’s life darkens when Darren is deployed to Iraq as an army chaplain. The deployment becomes the ultimate test for not only Darren’s faith, but also his marriage. While in Iraq, not only does Dareen see why so many soldiers come home broken and untethered, but also he himself experiences trauma and loss when the divine protection he promises the soldiers does not pan out.

When he finally returns home after a long deployment, Darren is a different man, and Heather is a different woman. Their seamless relationship had started to rip in many places while Darren was in Iraq while Heather had to struggle raising three children while supporting other military families. Upon his return, as Darren closes himself to his family, Heather is left with the sad choice of leaving the man she loves or fighting the PTSD monster that threatens to claim yet another husband and a father.

I watched this movie mostly with the eyes of a wife. I thought about what I would do if my husband returns a different man or somehow a wide chasm forms in between us. Because the truth is that many couples struggle with estrangement at some point in their marriage.

When I interviewed actress Sarah Drew, she said that in the lives of the Turners, she saw her own marriage playing out: “I went through a dark time in my marriage as well and I felt really hopeless. We went to counseling and came through other side with such sense of hope and joy that I always wanted to tell a story that reflects my own experience.”

When Darren stares into the distance instead of playing with his kids and neglects to talk to his wife even about the simplest things, Heather comes to a fork in the long road of commitment. Does she stay and fight or does she leave? The most important moment for me in the movie unfolds when the heartbroken wife actually decides to not give in to the convenient voice in her head. She had promised to God and made a commitment to love this man in sickness and health. Darren’s soul was sick, and Heather chose to love him.

While many would encourage Heather to leave her husband, Indivisible points to a different path. Mind you, the path is not easy, but it is the one that leads to sacrifice and love, a path at the end of which hope and perseverance wins. In real life, Turners continue on to counsel and help many other couples because of their own struggles.

Drew says she also had a similar take from the Turners’ true story: “We’re very much a in a consumer culture and we look at relationships in terms of what this relationship is for me. But the hardship of marriage is learning how to grow your heart to love someone who is different from you and other than you.”

Two becomes one in marriage, but not the same. That difference and otherness become painfully pronounced in times of crisis. Drew asks, “How do you find hope in the midst of pain?”

While Indivisible directs the viewer toward the Lord from whom we can learn true selflessness especially in times of crisis, the lack of a theology of suffering stands out. The Catholic Church embraces suffering and sanctifies it through the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord. Every priest is able to bring the Divine Body and Blood of Christ into us so that we can also participate in His Resurrection. As a Catholic, it is hard to miss how much the sacramental life of the Church actually provides tangible tools to hold on and find consolation in this valley of tears.

However, the reality is that the Church has failed in her duty to bring hope and the divine consolation of the Eucharist, by not evangelizing and by not passing down the Faith. In the sadness of the cracker-and-grape-juice scene of the Lord’s table during the movie, the fact of Church’s power should slap every faithful Catholic in the face. We have so much to offer to the suffering men and women. Yet, despite the lack of a full sacramental life, as a chaplain Darren brings hope and love to people’s lives, and somehow he himself manages to turn to his Lord when times get dark.

Drew says that hopefully Indivisible will help couples military or not to seek help when marriage seems to be unsalvageable: “Ask for help. Often times people feel a great sense of guilt and shame when the burden becomes too heavy. Shame sometimes prevents people from seeking help. The Turners realized they were in the pit, and they needed to ask for help, they needed somebody else to help the climb out of it.”

The movie depicts how one couple’s triumphs and failures ripple out to help many people, especially when war becomes invisible to everyone except those who have to actually witness the horrors of the front line. It is, in the end, a story of hurt and brokenness war spreads well-beyond the battlefield. Soldiers are lost in the meaninglessness of death and injury while life goes on unaware. It is hard to come back. It is hard to stay behind, as Drew says: “Men and women who are in the front lines are heroes… Also, the families who are left behind are extremely heroic. I hope Indivisible is received as a love letter to military families.”

As a Catholic, this movie made me appreciate the invaluable work of military chaplains like Fr. Emil Kapaun and Fr. Vincent Capodanno. The work of military chaplains goes by unnoticed, but when war is hell, these men of God become the safety for those whose souls are on the verge of destruction.

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen celebrates the episcopal consecration of Father John Kiplimo Lelei as auxiliary bishop of Kenya’s Diocese of Eldoret on May 25, 2024.

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The Nairobi-based Vatican diplomat, who has also been representing the Holy Father in South Sudan, highlighted the need to seek God’s mercy as important and implored: “Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”