Review: Rory Feek’s Blog Comes to Life in ‘To Joey, With Love’
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, Rory Feek's To Joey, With Love is worth millions -- a whole blog, really. Which is fitting, as Feek's documentary-style film about his late wife, Joey Feek, brings to life so many of the moments that the Joey + Rory member captured in his blog throughout what turned out to be a trying and sad, yet hopeful and faith-filled, two years.
To Joey, With Love opens with snippets of a few major moments in Joey + Rory's career: an interview on the ACM Awards red carpet, an awards win, the introduction of The Joey + Rory Show, some music video clips -- milestones that highlight how well the husband-and-wife duo's career was going when they decided, in January of 2014, to take a year off.
"[It was] the right time to slow down, to simplify," Rory Feek explains in a voiceover, noting that the decision would give them time to adjust to life with daughter Indiana, due early that year. "We believed that God would give us a great story ...
"The truth is," Feek says later, "we have no idea what's ahead of us."
Throughout the first third of To Joey, With Love, viewers see the Feeks preparing for baby Indy's arrival, and welcoming her into the world; they'll also see footage of some frightening moments following her birth, when Joey Feek is rushed to the hospital due to complications, and of doctors diagnosing Indy with Down syndrome. The second third shares Joey Feek's first cancer diagnosis, in June of 2014, and surgery, and the cancer's return in June of 2015, while the final third covers her final months living with terminal cancer before her death in March of 2016.
"Something told me that we needed to remember these moments, big and small," Rory Feek says minutes into the movie, explaining his decision to begin writing about and filming their lives, "and that one day, they would be important."
In his blog, This Life I Live, Rory Feek has always openly and poetically discussed their lives, often sharing photos and short video clips, but To Joey, With Love amplifies those small snippets, allowing viewers an even more intimate look into both the good and bad. Footage of Joey Feek gardening and cooking, even in her last weeks, and the family's trips to Alaska and Hawaii contrasts the everyday goings-on and special events in their lives with the tough journey they were taking through doctor's appointments and surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation and, finally, the decision to end treatments.
"It's all gonna be fine ... We're gonna get through this together," moviegoers will see Joey Feek say before her surgery in the summer of 2015 -- optimism that exists in her throughout the film, despite her waning health. Rory Feek's visual love letter can can be tough to watch at times, knowing how the story ends, but it's also beautiful to see his wife's faith throughout her cancer battle -- which Feek often wrote about -- come to life.
To Joey, With Love premiered on Sept. 20, with a one-night-only screening at theaters in Nashville, Tenn.; Chicago, Ill.; Los Angeles, Calif., and more. An encore screening will take place on Thursday (Oct. 6); fans can visit the film’s official website for more information.
In addition to To Joey, With Love, Rory Feek is also working on a book, titled This Life I Live and based on his blog of the same name. The singer-songwriter has said previously that he has "no desire" to return to the stage without his wife.
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