‘Ragamuffin’ is a biopic about Rich Mullins (Michael Koch), the Christian music superstar, whose faith was shaped by a difficult childhood and his struggles with depression and alcohol. The film chronicles Mullins’ life through the plot device of a radio interview where he narrates important aspects of his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, while answering a question about how he found his version of Christianity.
Overall, the film’s writing and acting are not great, in fact some parts are just flat out terrible, but it gets the job done. ‘Ragamuffin’ is a film made for a very specific demographic. It is a movie for Christians and, more specifically, fans of Rich Mullins, people who will look past its shortcomings, and stay for the story. There is not a lot in it for other audiences.
As a film, it is a pretty bland biopic. There are a few cinematographic flourishes, but just enough to keep the pace of the film somewhere above slow. Many of the plot points that are important to the movie’s story are only touched on and lack any meaningful exploration. This results in more than a few confusing scenes and plot twists. ‘Ragamuffin’ is often too subtle for its own good.
A lot of the scenes meant to depict the bad things Mullins went through are fairly subdued and this gives his reactions to the troubles an unfortunate feeling of exaggeration. Similarly, much of the drama emphasized in the film seems silly and superficial. It is clearly implied that Mullins had problems with alcohol and even possibly drugs, but the movie only briefly delves into this. It instead uses issues like his struggle against the record company over having too many depressing songs to indirectly hint at them. These odd points of emphasis are likely due to the film’s focus towards Christians, and the filmmaker’s attempts to make the film appropriate and more relatable for its target audiences.
‘Ragamuffin’ is a film about a nonconformist who transformed the Christian music industry. It attempts to illustrate the hardships he faced, and show how he rose above them. Many of these problems will only be relatable to Christian audiences, and even things that would be applicable to larger swabs of viewers are shaped in ways that will make them hard to relate to for non-Christians.
In stores July 8.